Finding Truth, Elevating Perspective:
Changing the Narrative on Afghanistan

Wars have narratives. So do their endings. What is said and what will be said is predicated by the position of the observer – essentially, who that observer supports. 

Afghanistan is no different. The narrative of bringing peace, of liberating women, of building a democratic state evolved from the original narrative of defeating terrorism and destroying Al Qaida. Forgotten in the entire story was where the Taliban came from, as in Orwell’s 1984: They had always been the enemy.

Today, it is clear that Afghanistan’s current state of collapse was both predictable and predicted. Peace cannot be realised through 20 years of violent intervention, investment in an extreme version of militarised security, and economic sub-contracting to private interests. Investments in people and their economic and social rights have been rendered insignificant by the budget for security. 

The restoration of the Taliban to power is testimony to the truth of this assertion. One which WILPF has held to be  true for over 100 years.

We are told that the rapidity of the fall of Kabul was not foreseen. This is untrue. There was military intelligence that advised as to the reality of the state of the Afghan security apparatus, a year before the fall, at the time of the Trump deal and after. Three weeks before the fall, WILPF Afghanistan president Jamila Afghani – writing on behalf of WILPF Afghanistan and other women’s organisations – wrote to the UN Security Council to warn of what was about to happen. WILPF submitted a brief telling what the UNSC and member states should be doing so as to comply with international law and responsibilities for peace and security. 

They knew. They were told. They did nothing.

It is vital that the truth is told. Not just because the history has to be inclusive and accurate, but because Afghanistan will soon disappear from media scrutiny and public concern. It already is.

In our series of blogs, see below, we will provide an inside story of what happened, in Afghanistan, before and during the evacuations; of the advocacy, the solidarity, and the ongoing fight to secure justice for those who want nothing more than to live in peace. 

Their stories will bring a different perspective and enable a narrative to be built which accurately describes what happened and hence what needs to be done.

We hope you’ll follow along. 

Madeleine Rees Portrait

Madeleine Rees
WILPF Secretary-General

Latest Stories on Afghanistan

25 January 2023
2min
Press Release
#Afghanistan

Women’s Rights Must Not Be a Bargaining Chip Between the Taliban and the International Community

14 November 2022
3min
Q&A
#Afghanistan

WILPF Vice President Jamila Afghani Wins the 2022 Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity 

3 November 2022
1min
News
#Afghanistan

WILPF Afghanistan Launches Psychosocial Support Sessions for Women in Crisis

4 July 2022
10min
News
#Afghanistan

Afghanistan: A Young Woman Forced to Flee Her Beloved Home Country Dreams of Becoming Its First Female President

1 July 2022
5min
Press Release
#poweronpatrol

Power on Patrol, the New Documentary, Is Out

11 April 2022
7min
News
#MaleAllies

Making Visible the Afghan Men Who Are Working for Women’s Rights and a Gender-Just Society

Meet with WILPF Afghanistan

Melissa Torres

VICE-PRESIDENT

Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani

VICE-PRESIDENT

Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo

PRESIDENT

Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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Demilitarisation

WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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