The Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens, the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, and the Women in International Security (WIIS) Austria co-hosted an event titled “A Long Road to Peace: Realities, Hopes, and Visions from Afghanistan” in Vienna, Austria on October 8th, 2019. The WEP Asia fellows participated in the event, especially those from Afghanistan featuring as speakers.
Naeem Poyesh, Deputy Head and Counselor of the Embassy and Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Vienna, pointed out some of the main problems of the peace process in Afghanistan.
“There are many actors, but they have different goals,” said Poyesh.
He also addressed the issue of gender inequality in the peace process as women in Afghanistan society are rather expected to stay home.
Poyesh emphasized that
“we should seek peace” and that “we should not follow the seasonal policies based on elections and relationships,”
Viola Christian, Coordinator of the Women’s Empowerment Program, introduced to the gathered crowd the mission and the work of the Ban Ki-moon Centre as well as the WEP Asia fellows from Afghanistan, who came up to the stage to present their stories.
- All segments of society and people should jump into solving the challenges with common goals and unity.
- Afghanistan needs help and cooperation from the international community.
- “Educating women is so important!
“We have to raise our voices,” said Sohalia Rezaee, co-founder of the Afghanistan Youth Empowerment and Peace Building Organization (AYEPO).
She shared her story about being an Afghan refugee in Iran as well as other challenges she has faced as a young woman in her country after she returned. She was denied to go to school, asked to get married in early age, and lost her best friend during an attack.
In order for her to empower herself as well as other young women in her society, she established AYEPO and taught female students in high school age “leadership, personal skills and peacebuilding skills.”
The event also hosted a panel which was moderated by Professor Ebrahim Afsah of the University of Vienna and consisted of:
- Farida Amiri, Founder of Peace Friends
- Munira Aziz, European Union Delegation, Afghanistan
- Hooria Sardarzaada, Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs of Afghanistan
Amiri shared her experience as a young female entrepreneur peace-builder and pointed out that it is difficult for young people and women “to take part in the decision-making process.”
She said, “our views, concerns, and commitments have to be showed to the international community and included at the table.”
Professor Afsah asked the panel,
“What is the role of international actors?”
Aziz responded with the importance of sustainability and accessibility:
“The support of the international community is crucial to build sustainable peace” she said, “the international community plays an essential role in including the remote areas and the marginalized communities.”
When Professor Afsah asked the panel about the role of private initiatives, Sardarzaada answered:
“It should be localized.”
“Education is the key.”
She said that “the Afghan government should speak on behalf of us and “work in unity” with the private sector and its allies and partners.
After the panel discussion, a number of the participants stayed longer to have a deeper conversation with the speakers and to have their questions answered regarding the peace-building process and women’s empowerment.
© BKMC / Eugenie Berger