1.1 Executive Summary:

We always hear from our international allies “Afghan led and Afghan owned peace process”. The Afghan led part can be somewhat true where a few Afghan national Id holders are sitting around the negotiation table and deciding the fate of 38,928,346 people[1], however the “Afghan owned peace process” part is not fully true. For us to ensure the ‘Afghan owned peace process’, we need to mobilize, engage, and empower girls, women, and men from all parts of life in a united front to raise their voice on the issues that leave a permanent impact on all of their lives. The ongoing peace process is a highly politically significant moment in Afghan history as it will be playing a pertinent role in determining the future of Afghan people and its nation. Afghan women must play their meaningful role and active participation in the peace process, both directly and indirectly. The religious women local peacemakers, who are the most essential women role models in Afghan society, have been silent, neglected, and living under dire circumstances. Regardless of these evident challenges that have held them back, they have major achievements within their communities. Women Ulama, besides the male Ulama, have a prestigious and influential position in Afghan society and they should be mobilized and empowered to demolish all differences in our society and bridge the gap between the two warring parties. Our Shia and Sunni sisters should stand united with each other and contribute positively and unanimously to change the political peace deal into a socially accepted and assimilated peace deal. Therefore, WILPF Afghanistan section has started mobilizing different influential yet not so active groups of people, such as girls and women with disability, war victims’ families, and religious activists to play their role in the peace process. The First National Women Ulama Conference, which was held on 1st and 2nd of October 2020 in Kabul with a group of 100 women religious peace activists from different tribal and different lingual backgrounds, was our first attempt to open this discussion and showcase the important role of Women Ulama in this conversation. This conference will be the start of a nationwide coordination on mobilization of religious peace makers and solidarity acts amongst female and male Ulama to lower the gap and empower women from both sides. We cordially thank UNAMA for provision of additional funding to make this event possible and we also thank USA, Canada, and Norway embassies in Kabul for amplifying our voices to national and international level.

2.1. Background:

Today, Afghanistan is undergoing a crucial political moment in history. The initial peace deal agreement has been signed between USA and the Taliban. Even though the start of Intra-Afghan Peace Talks is positive, its unique and abundant challenges are something that cannot be overlooked. The delay in the formal start of peace talks has been difficult for the Afghan people. Since March 2020, the range of security conflicts has increased enormously and on daily bases we continue to face multiple casualties and deaths. Both sides of the negotiation teams have little credibility in the eyes of the Afghan community. Afghan people are highly exhausted and frustrated with the delaying of the Peace Process, especially since it is their lives that are at constant jeopardy; however, they are also optimistic that at last, the peace talks have officially begun.

On August17th, 2018[2]  the Afghan president traveled to Ghazni, where he called on national Ulemas to instill pressure on the Taliban in the Peace Process to reach an agreement with the Afghan government. He emphasized that the Ulema from their religious platforms can play an essential role in paving the way for peace. This message of the president is relevant to all the provinces that are direct targets of this ongoing war; however, the President forgets a key group, the women Ulema, who are also as significant as the male Ulema. We are aware of the narrative that the Taliban have used as their political agenda, the exploitation of the preaching’s of Islam, and based on that narrative, they have always talked about women’s right from their interpretation of the Sharia. However, the conversation isn’t complete because there are no presence of educated and well-aware women scholars in this discussion. The purpose of this conference was to provide the women Ulema scholars the platform to start the discussion.

In this conference, we invited 100 women scholars to participate actively. They wrote down women’s right in sharia from a feminist perspective. We also wanted to showcase the capability of Afghan Women Ulema, where it was acceptable to have moderate and balanced comprehension of the Shariah regarding women’s rights. It is crucial to emphasize that the rights that are bestowed upon us by Allah (SWT), no political game should disregard those God-given rights. Our goal is to represent female interest from an Islamic perspective, therefore it is essential to introduce Afghanistan Women Ulema, who are more than capable to address Afghan females concerns and needs with proper knowledge of the Islamic schools of thought. These scholars are well equipped with Islamic knowledge and are highly skilled women, mothers, wives, and daughters who have also firsthand witnessed the pain and suffering caused by masculine war. Women Ulema (Scholars) can play a vital role in filling the missing gap in the peace talks, which will lead to a more sustainable and successful state of peace.

It was on 1st and 2nd of October 2020, Afghan Women’s Peace and Freedom Organization (AWPFO/ WILPF-Afghanistan)[3] with cooperation of Nuhzatul Ulama of Afghanistan (NUA)[4] organized a two day conference in Kabul Star Hotel for a group of 100 Afghan Women Ulema (32 women from 17 provinces, 50 Islamic women from Shia and Sunni groups in Kabul, and 30 from civil society). The purpose of this conference was to bring together our female religious peace activists from 17 provinces, including Shia and Sunny sects, to raise their voices unanimously and stand in solidarity with other sisters and to request for an immediate ceasefire and show their support for the ongoing peace process.

2.2 Background Information:

We have extensive grass root peace makers of 10,000 members in 34 provinces. As the Peace Talks have gotten serious, we realized the shortcoming of women religious peace makers’ involvement in the peace process. This became more evident when Ms. Afghani participated in the first intra Afghan dialogue between Taliban and civil society. This face to face meeting led to the understanding of the reality that Taliban has changed their diplomacy, but their political agenda is the same and we need to have stronger and moderate narrative of the Shariah. We wanted to initiate this conversation, but we always faced huge resistance from other women networks and coalitions based in Kabul, where their main argument was to separate the religious issues from the peace process. However, truth of the matter is, Afghanistan is an Islamic Republic and we cannot overlook and divide religion from politics as they are highly integrated. This is why Ms. Afghani, with facilitation of Canadian embassy in Kabul, organized a series of workshops at Canadian Embassy in Kabul on Women’s Right in Islam with the context of Afghanistan and emphasis on women’s role in the peace process. These sessions took place on June 26th, 2019 and August 5th, 2019 and a number of representatives from Danish, Norwegian, German, American, Canadian embassies, UN, UN Women, and NATO representatives attended these sessions. These sessions were essential to portray the rights of women from Islamic perspective and highlight the misusage of women’s right under the name of religion for political purposes. These sessions also helped portray a different narrative of Islam than the stereotype, which allowed us to convey our message to the international allies about the rights of women under Islam, and how they are deprived of their God-given rights. These sessions permitted the need to convey the message of truth to all relevant actors, and also to mobilize and empower Afghan women to never allow anyone to take their rights away from them, especially with exploiting the name of Islam.

Following to our higher level sensitization, we gathered a group of 15 women scholars based in Kabul from both sunni and Shia sects,  and had a joint meeting with Canadian embassy, where the women Ulema exchanged ideas on the meaningful participation of women in peace process from an Islamic perspective and the importance of their political participation under Sharia. The respected ambassador, His Excellency Dave Metcalfe, hosted a dinner and met these women and had a face to face conversation with these women.

After this experience, we expanded our network of Kabul religious peacemakers to a group of 100 Afghan Women scholars from other provinces. Due to the pandemic of Covid-19, we could not have physical meetings; therefore we resorted to online mediums.  Meanwhile, a smaller group started developing a manual on women’s right under Sharia with a feminist narrative in support of WISE by Daisy Khan. On the other hand, Ms. Afghani developed a document in which she gave a moderate narrative of women’s right in the light of Sharia and compared it to Taliban’s narrative. We also distributed it between some internal friends, and each female member of the Peace talks was given a copy of that document.

Due to the inability to meet in person, we created a WhatsApp group to communicate. Here, we shared and exchanged ideas. We saw the active participation of some of these women who were from war-affected provinces in this WhatsApp group, and they were the ones that pushed us to organize a face to face meeting in Kabul. Due to COVID, insecurity, and lack of financial resources to cover the cost of the provincial participants, we were not able to organize the planned conference; however, finally through UNAMA’s financial support we were able to organize this conference.

3.0. Pre-Conference Arrangement:

Before diving into the logistics of the conference, we had to screen our database and find the appropriate female religious scholars that would be perfect for our conference. We hadn’t met most of the provincial religious peace makers, so we requested our members to introduce some religious activists to us. When the list was sent to us, we conducted a phone interview with the participants and we requested them to share their bios with us. Up to some extent, this was helpful in the selection of the provincial participants, but the selection process was still challenging and time consuming. The process posed some challenges that we were prepared for and some that we didn’t see coming. Most of the provincial participants had to bring their Mahrams along, which we had calculated, but some even brought their babies, which we were not informed of in advance, so we had to accommodate and show flexibility.

Welcome Lunch on 29th September:

Many of the provincial women reached Kabul earlier than the allotted date of the conference. On 29th September, we organized a welcome lunch for these women, and we spent time until 17:00 pm, where we got to know each other, discussed the content of the overall conference, including the advocacy meetings, and shortlisted our best provincial women Ulema representatives. We conducted a brainstorming session, where out of the 32 women we chose 17 active women who could also participate in the advocacy meetings. Then we conducted another session between the selected women to present their stories, which was essential for us to shortlist the candidates further. We asked them some expected questions that would be raised during the advocacy meetings, which helped us in choosing. Finally, we were able to select the 5 best and most active women, who were representative of different provinces, ethnic, and lingual groups (Samangan, Helmand, Kandahar, Herat, and Zabul). In the remaining short time, we provided training to these women on the etiquettes of presenting their ideas, needs, and concerns to high level diplomats.

Brief Summary of the Conference:

The overall participants of the conference were 100 individuals (32 religious peace activists from 17 provinces, 45 from Kabul, including Shia and Sunni representatives, and we also had 30 more from civil society.) We also had some local representatives from Qatar, Indonesia, and Norwegian embassies in Kabul alongside some civil society members, especially women with disability. We also had the Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs, Mr. Aminuddin Muzafary, and representative of Ministry of Peace, Ms. Laila Jafari. The organizer, Ms. Jamila Afghani, emphasized the purpose of this conference, which is to mobilize girls and women on the issues which impact their lives. The religious peace builders who are active on the ground but disconnected from the whole process should actively contribute to the peace process in order to change the political peace into a socially sustainable peace.

           The Provincial Women Ulama Participants with WILPF-Afghanistan Section Members

Day 1 of Conference:

The first day of the conference took place on October 1st, 2020, and started from 8:00 a.m. till 4:00 p.m. Ms. Afghani started the conference with an opening statement in which she welcomed the distinguished guests and participants. Then she mentioned about the goal and objectives of the conference. There was active participation from the Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs, Mr. Aminuddin Muzafary, and representative of Ministry of Peace, Ms. Laila Jafari. Both of these distinguished guests welcomed our Women Ulema and applauded our First Women Ulema Conference in this crucial moment for Afghans and Afghanistan. They also shared the essentiality of the women religious peacemakers, both on grass root level and on political level, especially with the ongoing peace talks. After these remarks, the conference had its panel discussions.

There were 8 women scholars (Ms. Abeda Majidi, Maliha Muhid, Adela Aziz, Zakia Mahmodi,

Panel Discussions:

After the warm introduction to the conference, the first panel discussion took place, where the panelists were Mrs. Adela Azizi (Herat), Ms. Ayesha Abdul Samad (Nooristan), Ms. Maliha Mohad ( ) Ms. Abida Azizi, Ms. Zakia Masoudi……

The panelists, who presented an academic paper on the selected topics, delivered their papers for the participants. Afterwards there was question and answer session, where the participants took part actively in the discussion. We have the plan to print these resources for wider distribution in a compiled in a booklet for future resources. These papers were warmly welcomed among the participants about women political participation with reference to Islamic history up until now. They also analyzed the role of women Ulema in the context of the ongoing peace talks in Afghanistan and how Afghan women can play the role to shape their future. The first panel discussed the role of Muslim Women in preliminary Islamic era) and what is the role of women in spreading the message of peace.

The second panel consisted of Ms.Fatana Quraishi, Ms. Zainab Abu Al-Fazl, and Ms. Qudsia Saleem. This panel discussion focused on Women scholars’ role in promoting women political participation, especially in sustainability of peace. It also highlighted the role and responsibility of religious scholar in the current affairs of Afghanistan and in socioeconomic development. This session also ended with question and answer session, and many of the participants showed their enthusiasm and passion in these conversations as well.

Panelists from 2nd Panel: Ms Fatana Quraishi (left), Ms. Zainab Abu Al-Fazl (middle), and Ms. (right)

Group Work:

Our last session for the first day of the conference was to divide the participants into 9 groups. We had a provincial representative lead the group discussions. In this group work session, our female participants were given a page full of questions where they were asked to share their responses to these open-ended questions.

Group Work led by Provincial Participants:Qamamr Niazi (helmand)  B) Ms. Rahila Qarizada (Kunar)

Day 2 of Conference:

Second day of the conference took place on October 2nd, 2020. This day our arrangements were done in a manner of panel discussion. This day our activities went as the following: Presentation of the points from the group work, sharing the press statement both in dari and Pashto, leading the congregational prayer, sharing the manual called, Knowing My Rights by Daisy Khan, where Ms. Khan joined us during the zoom session as well. And the final activity was the discussion between the male and female ulemas.

                                                                Day 2 of Conference, October 2nd, 2020

Presentation of Group Work:

Another important activity during the conference was a group work exercise, where each group presented their points on the second day of conference. During the group work, one of the given question was: what are five areas where women we can compromise in order to achieve peace in Afghanistan and what are the 5 major areas that we cannot compromise? The answer to this question was very interesting and it would be mentioned in detail in the section of lesson learned. We have made a separate annex on the key points of the group work by sisters from provinces. It was interesting to see the variances in the demands of women from different provinces. The most interesting has been to see the difference in the perception of sisters from Kabul in contrast to sisters from other provinces like Mazar and Herat, especially in their comprehension of peace.

Press Statement:

During our meet and greet, the provincial participants alongside the team of WILPF-Afghanistan worked together to create a statement in English, Dari, and Pashto regarding their demands and wants from these peace talks, both from the government and the Taliban. For this moment, we had media from Khurshid, TOLO and other news channels present. This was a great moment for our provincial religious sister scholars, however, the news channels shared the detail of our conference under another organization’s name, which is still a problem that we have faced, regardless of posting it on our Social Medias.

                                      Press Statement Presented by Provincial Participants, October 2nd, 2020

Jumah Prayer:

The joint prayer (Jamahat) was performed by all female participants during the afternoon prayer and it was such a wonderful and wholesome experience. All sisters, regardless of all their technical differences, stood together and raised their hand for peace and prosperity to come in Afghanistan, and heart touching prayers was recited and all eyes were full of tears. Everyone was asking Allah (SWT) to help both sides reach a probable solution for peace through honesty and commitment.

                        Masooda Azizi (Herat) Leading the Female Prayer. Day 1 and 2 of Conference

Knowing My Rights:

The second important activity was the opening ceremony of the training manual under title of “Knowing my Islamic Rights”. This training manual was developed by Daisy Khan from WISE in close consultation with Ms. Jamila Afghani. The aim of the training manual is to provide a guidebook for Afghan women to better understand their rights with accordance to the basic principle of Sharia. This manual is written in English, and soon we plan to translate it in the following languages: Dari, Pashto, and Uzbeki for more accessibility to all diverse groups.

                    ‘Knowing My Rights’ Introduced By Ms. Jamila Afghani, October 2nd, 2020

For the inauguration of this conference, we had 5 Muslim women scholars from outside of Afghanistan, who also joined us on the second day of the conference. Their names are the following: Ms. Daisy Khan from WISE, Ms. Basma Abdulghafoor from Canada, Ms. Siti Ruhini and Dr. Noor Rufiya Beluzam from Indonesia, and also Ms. Palwasha Kakar from USIP Washington DC, who joined us through zoom. The conversation with these sisters were empowering and an enabling step for Afghan women Ulema to meet and learn how women religious peace makers are actively working around the world for a more fair role for women participation. Hopefully, these sessions will motivate our sisters to actively do their part for Afghanistan with support of these women. The speeches of these scholars will also be shared in the above mentioned booklet for future resources and references.

Male and Female Ulema Discussion:

The last important activity that we had was a discussion between male and female Ulema. This discussion was highly enriching, especially when discussing how the male Ulema can cooperate in paving the way for women inclusion. The finding was that male Ulema should support the movement for women rights in all aspects of life in order to attain a sustainable peace for all citizens of Afghanistan. There is no limitation in Islam on women’s political participation, but due to cultural and patriarchal norms, religion has been misunderstood and exploited, hence creating a wider gap that is left to fill. Both male and female Ulema decided to work side by side to change the wrong public perception and promote the right interpretation of Islam.

Advocacy Meetings with the Provincial Participants:

  • The first advocacy meeting was held virtually through Zoom by support of UN Women and the cooperation of Canadian embassy in Kabul. The following ambassadors were involved: Dave Metcalfe, Ambassador of Canada to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Geoffrey Tooth (Ambassador of Australia to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan), Ross Wilson (Ambassador of the USA to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan), Paula Sanchez Diaz (Deputy Head of Mission of Spain to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan), Representatives from the Embassy of the UK to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Christiane Burrell (Representative of GIZ Senior Advisor on Gender and Human Rights), Representative of the NATO SCR Office, Representatives of UN Women in Afghanistan, and 12 women ulema from 12 provinces.

Zoom Virtual Advocacy Meeting with Ambassadors of Canada, US, Australia, UK representative, Spanish Deputy Head of Mission, NATO, GIZ, and UN Women Representatives with our 12 provincial participants. October 2nd, 2020

Day 3 Norwegian Embassy Advocacy Meeting:

The second advocacy meeting was held at the Norwegian Embassy in Kabul and we attended it physically. H.E. Ole Andreas Lindeman, Norwegian Ambassador, hosted the meeting. There were also representatives of Nordic countries, UN women, SRSG H. E. Deborah Lyons, and UNAMA representatives that also participated in the open discussions.

Post-Conference Activities:

  • First coordination meeting will be held every Thursdays
  • National campaign to be held on national level for every 15 days in order to mobilize more religious peace makers at gross root level. This would help to design a longer term project that will be reaching nationwide.
  • To print the participants’ bio book and the articles that were written and delivered by speakers and panelists of the conference.
  • The guide book of “Knowing my rights” will be translated in Dari and Pashto and series of workshops would be conducted regarding the content of that manual.

Lessons Learned:

  • Always it’s hard to support Afghan owned and Afghan led peace process. The Afghan led can still be given some acknowledgement since they hold Afghan ID’s; however, it is the Afghan owned peace process part that is lacking. We have to find a way to ensure Afghan owned peace process when majority of Afghan people are unheard and they have no chance for participation
  • The Taliban’s “Sharia” argument is not parallel with the sharia perspective; their interpretation is deeply influenced by the cultural and patriarchal practices, which are dominating Afghanistan at the moment. In order to give an accurate interpretation of Islam and the realities of Sharia, there is need for public awareness where each and every woman should have a basic understanding of their sharia rights. Therefore, a training manual has been designed and is in need to be translated in Dari and Pashto for wide awareness of Afghan women

Challenges:

  • We met most of the provincial women for the first time and we did not know them earlier. We had some major challenges especially with participants coming from Kunar, Laghman, and Nangarhar. Most of them were employees of DoWAs and they had young kids along. They did not mention this issue before coming to Kabul and we only relied on their verbal interview and short bios in which they mentioned they had graduated from Sharia faculty of Nangarhar. There were two participants from Kunar who were related. One was babysitting the baby of her relative and had no contribution in the conference. We counted the young women as Mahram for the older women and made payment for her with that in mind, however, she demanded full payment as a participant of the conference.
  • We realized that the women from Kunar and Laghman were very much interested only in the financial benefit of the conference rather than the content of the conference. The other participant from Laghman was also occupied tending to her sick daughter and therefore could not pay the required attention during the conference nor was she able to contribute in the advocacy meetings.
  • We did not have enough technical and equipment resources for our online meetings. Luckily, things still went smoothly, but we need to consider these items in any future funding opportunities.
  • Some media appeared for the coverage of the press statement but TOLO did not declare the ownership of the gathering, it was broadcasted after news from AWN and did not show our logo or give credit to the name of the organizers. We consider this act as an act of misuse and some other takes advantage of this gathering and we are planning take serious actions against TOLO Tv for spreading incomplete stories.
  • In the last minute changes with some of the participants from Parwan and Logar was and even it was not pre negotiated with us.
  • We also added one participant from Badakhshan who was not including

Annex (1). Press statement

During all of the discussions amongst the participants, everyone expressed their interests and support for the start of the intra-Afghan negotiations. We have prayed to Allah (SWT) for success in the start of this journey. We request from both sides to make the dream of peace and nonviolence a reality for Afghanistan. We hope that Afghan people will not lose their hope of peace for Afghans. We request from both sides to have Allah as witness and to proceed with these negotiations with complete commitment, honesty, and integrity in order to pave the way for sustainable and fruitful peace.

Afghan women are exhausted from the continuous cycle of war, where they are facing the loss and brunt of this violent and masculine war. We have sacrificed our body parts, family members, our loved ones to a fight that is not created or fought by us, yet we are the ones paying the price for it and are also neglected and ignored from the important political conversation. Even though we are a country with 60% of youths, we are facing uncertainties in our future for the Afghan community. We are beaten, tortured, abused. Our souls are crushed and our future seems bleak, which makes us hopeless. We are the ones witnessing the bloodshed of war; we are the ones losing our spirit to this war as this war has produced daily death and causalities, which can be worse than death for most, as we do not have the economic stability to finance our war victims. In Islam, there is no space for brutality and war, as the Quranic verse goes in the Surah Anfal verse 32 “Killing of one person is like killing all of humanity” and regardless of Islam promoting non-violence, Afghan history has been washed with war and death. There should be no space for violence in the Afghan constitution. Therefore, we call upon both sides with the following points:

  1. The start of peace talks in Qatar has opened a window of hope for Afghan people and is a positive step. Talibans also have Afghan mothers. No mother wants to watch their loved ones dying daily right in the front of their eyes, and the Taliban, in respect to their mothers, must stop fighting. The voices of all Afghan mothers are in direct support of the ceasefire and it must and should be respected.
  2. Religious male and female leaders have religious and national responsibility to reduce hatred and animosity. We have to preach the lessons of forgiveness and emphasize on the essentiality of brotherhood, which is a crucial step, especially after the peace deal.
  3. The insecurity has contributed to an increase in drug usage from both men and women. We also have an increase in moral, financial, institutional corruption, increase of domestic violence, honor killing, child marriage, Bachabazi, kidnapping, criminal cases, natural disaster such as floods, and corona have also contributed immensely to the downfall of Afghan people’s lives and livelihoods. With the start of the peace talks in Qatar, the insecurity in Afghanistan has increased tremendously. This is an opportunity for peace and this prospect should not be wasted.
  4. In our beloved Islam, Afghanistan constitution, and the International conventions have granted women their rights very clearly and evidently, and no women takes it for granted. After struggling for so long to be recognized as crucial members of society, we will not allow anyone to use, exploit, and propagate women’s right as political and personal tool for their own agenda.
  5. The repetitive culture of male domination and patriarchy, economic challenges, and male dominated government institutions have contributed enormously to the lack of trust on women’s leadership and women capabilities, which is highly unfair to all Afghan women. The legal institution is filled with corruption, and that has created a wide gap between people and the government. Our government must take serious measure to regain their credibility and they must punish the perpetrators. They must not set them free until they have faced their consequences.
  6. Women scholars are an untouched human resource that can play an important role in the reduction of moral and institutional corruptions, majority of them come with a clean background, which can contribute to our country’s development.
  7. Afghan police and army must consider Afghan cultural norms while conducting military operation and they must ensure civilian protection.
  8. At the current peace talk delegation, there are only four women representatives attending these peace talk. There are no women representatives from the Taliban. With women’s meaningful participation on different levels such as track 2, track 3, as well as when working in committees, as well as observers, they must be included in all areas of conversation and discussion.
  9. The voices of direct victims of war should be acknowledged. Moral and material compensation must be considered as both parties first priority.
  10. We call upon international committee to stand in solidarity and promote Afghan led and Afghan owned peace process. No one should take for granted women’s and human rights and it should not be compromised. We have to ensure women’s meaningful participation throughout the whole process and we have to hold them accountable.
  11. We thank the international community facilitating both sides for the start of intra Afghan neoglaciation, in order to pave the way for peace and we request them to continue their struggle and help Afghan to see the dream of peace as reality
  12. Basma Abdelgafar
  13. Biography
  14. Basma Abdelgafar is an Associate Professor of Public Policy. She consults and provides training internationally on policy, governance and Muslim affairs. Dr. Abdelgafar has worked in the Canadian federal government, academia and the third sector. She has contributed to the development of graduate studies in public policy at the American University in Cairo, Qatar Foundation and the International Peace College of South Africa. She was founding head of the Public Policy in Islam Master’s Program at the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies, Hamad Bin Khalifa University.
    She has a keen interest in research and teaching in public policy and governance in Islam as well as in Muslim history, thought, institutions and communities. Her Ph.D. in Public Policy from Carleton University, Ottawa, focused on intellectual property, pharmaceuticals and the international trade regime. Her book publications include: Public Policy Beyond Traditional JurisprudenceThriving in a Plural World, M.A. Draz’s Morality in the Quran and the Greater Good of Humanity, and The Illusive Tradeoff. Dr. Abdelgafar is currently authoring a book on the Quranic Theory of Invention and Innovation. She serves on the editorial board of the American Journal of Islam and Society.

Meeting with Women Ulemah from Provinces

OnWomen’s rights and participation in Intra-Afghan Peace Negotiation

Agenda (Draft)

Date: 3rd October 2020

Time: 9:00 – 13:00

Venue: Ambassador Residence

Layout: Open discussion followed by lunch

Agenda:

Duration Discussion points Lead
9:00-:09:30

(30 minutes)

Arrival and networking All participants
9:30-9:35 Logistics information and round table introduction Delawaiz Hashimi, Gender Advisor, Norwegian embassy
9:35- 9:40  (5 minutes) Welcome and opening remarks H.E. Ole Andreas Lindeman, Norway Ambassador
9:40-9:50 (10 minutes) Short introduction to Afghan Women Peace and Freedom Organization (AWPFO)

Important massages from The First National Afghan Female Ulemah Conference on Peace

Jamila Afghani,

Director, AWPFO

9-50-11:20

 

(One and half hours)

Panel Discussion Open from Women Ulemah

Possible questions:

1.      What challenges you face as a social worker in your province and what are the main challenges women face in your provinces. How you support solve them?

2.      How are the Taliban’s positions on women’s rights being discussed in your communities? What are the different views expressed by people? What are some of women’s rights limitation Taliban may impose on women, will you agree with it?

3.      Do you think the current peace talks are moving in the right direction? If yes, why if not what could be done differently to make it succeed?

4.      What is your expectations from women member of the negotiation team. What massage they should convey on your behalf.

5.      How can women Ulemah and women religious scholars support the peace process and especially the women in the Islamic Republic negotiation team?

6.      What is your demand from both sides to negotiations (Taliban and Government) and what support you expect from international community?

Moderator, Jamila Afghani, Director, AWPFO

 

Delawaiz Hashimi

Gender Advisor, Norwegian Embassy

 

 

11:20 – 11:50: (30 minutes) Questions and Answers All participants
11:50 – 11:55 (5 minutes) Closing remarks H.E.SRSG Deborah Lyons
11:55-12:00 (5 minutes) Group Photo
12:00-13:00 Lunch All participants

 

Women’s Ulema participants &

Australia, Canada, USA, UK, Spain, GIZ, NATO SCR and UN Women

October 2, 17:00-18:30

Zoom meeting, with translation option available

In attendance from Embassies and Organizations:

  • Ambassador of Canada to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Dave Metcalfe
  • Ambassador of Australia to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Geoffrey Tooth
  • Ambassador of the USA to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ross Wilson
  • Deputy Head of Mission of Spain to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Paula Sánchez Díaz
  • Representatives from the Embassy of the UK to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
  • Representative of GIZ Senior Advisor on Gender and Human Rights Christiane Burrell
  • Representative of the NATO SCR Office
  • Representatives of UN Women in Afghanistan

Agenda:

17:00               Intro – Jamila Afghani, Religious Peace Maker and Women’s Rights Activist,

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

17:05               Ambassador of Canada provides remarks

17:10               Ambassador of USA provides remarks

17:15               Ambassador of Australia provides remarks

17:20               Jamila Afghani Introduces the Women’s Ulema Participants

(2-3 will speak for 10-15 minutes)

17:50               Question and Answer Period

18:15               Closing remarks from the Ulema women, including Jamila Afghani

18:30               End of Meeting

Acknowledgements and Thank you:

  • Thank you to Jamila Afghani for this opportunity to listen to Afghan women scholars.
  • Thank you to UNAMA for supporting the Ulema, including with translation services today.
  • Thank you to UN Women for providing technical support for this meeting.