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Afghan mothers gather in Herat to advocate
HERAT -- Dozens of Afghan women from six provinces convened last week
for a Peace Mothers conference in Herat, a programme created by
Afghanistan's High Peace Council (HPC) to promote peace in society.
The women, some of whom came from insecure areas and regions, gathered
in Herat city December 23-26 to discuss ways to help advance the peace
process in the country.
The objective of the Peace Mothers conference is to create a network of
women who can share experiences for the purpose of creating a peaceful
society, according to Habiba Sarabi, deputy head of the HPC.
More than 60 women from six provinces gathered December 23-26 in Herat
city to discuss ways of advancing peace in the country. [Omar]
A woman from Kunar Province listens to other participants December 23
during the Peace Mothers conference in Herat city. [Omar]
"Ninety women from nine Afghan provinces are members of Peace Mothers,
and this programme will expand to include all provinces of the country,"
she told Salaam Times.
"This network is made up of women who work in our society specifically
for the purpose of achieving peace," she said. "We are determined to
promote social peace in Afghanistan and to have more women who are
active in pursuit of social peace."
The HPC launched the Peace Mothers initiative last year. So far meetings
have occurred in Kabul, Bamiyan and t provinces.
Women from six provinces -- Kapisa, Baghlan, Jawzjan, Herat, Laghman and
Kunar -- participated in the latest meeting of the Peace Mothers, Sarabi
"Ten women have participated in the programme from each of these
provinces," she said.
Dozens of women from civil society and women's rights advocates from
Kabul also participated in the conference.
"This network can be very influential ... as these women are trying to
promote the culture of peace in their areas," Sarabi said.
"We should not forget that women are respected in Afghan society and
culture," she said. "As mothers, women are respected and play an
extremely vital role in the family."
"It is the mother who manages the order in a family, and it is through
this family order that a mother can play a crucial role in preventing
her children from taking up arms or stirring ethnic and religious
"It is the mother who can bring up and train her children to accept
others and be a peaceful individual," she said.
Mothers for social peace
The women who participated in the conference explained their motivations
for working towards social peace.
"As a Peace Mother, I want security to be provided to us and we want war
in our province to stop so that Afghans can live, study and enjoy their
lives in peace and security," Hamida Taheri, a resident of Baghlan
Province, told Salaam Times.
"We have done a lot of work on social peace and have achieved many
results, and we are optimistic that peace will come to Afghanistan,"
said Farzim Fahimi, a resident of Jawzjan Province.
"I was born in Afghanistan during war," she told Salaam Times. "I went
through my youth during wartime, and, as a mother, I am growing old in
Fahimi said she wishes for the war to be over in Afghanistan, especially
knowing the lifelong suffering of mothers who are widowed or who have
lost children in the war.
"I want Afghan mothers no longer to suffer, their children not to be
killed, and peace to come to Afghanistan," she said.
"After spending time with and speaking to many other Afghans, I have
realised that Afghan mothers are truly concerned about this situation,"
Fahimi said. "They told me, 'We will encourage our husbands and children
not to join the Taliban.'"
"The mother makes up the foundation of a family," Sima Stanikzai,
another resident of Jawzjan, told Salaam Times. "Therefore, I am certain
that soon we will reach peace if a proper role is given to [mothers] in
the peace process because no child -- including those who are in the
ranks of the opposition -- rejects his mother's demands."
Mothers stand to suffer the most in the Afghan war and play an
indispensable role in promoting peace, she said. "Mothers do not want
their children to get killed whether they are in the Taliban or in the
Afghan security forces."
"We have joined the Peace Mothers voluntarily because all of us -- men
and women alike -- need peace in our homeland," said Zarifa Yusufi, a
resident of Baghlan Province. "All Afghans need peace because we simply
cannot live without it. Mothers have lost their children and want peace
and security to prevail in our country."
"We call on war-stricken mothers to prevent their children from taking a
step in the wrong direction by joining the Taliban ranks," she told
Salaam Times. "They should guide their children towards the path of
virtue and teach them peace."
Ending the culture of war
"Unfortunately, the past 40 years of war
in Afghanistan have affected many families," Sarabi said. "The culture
of peace must be institutionalised in society and must replace the
culture of war and fighting."
"We can start this culture through women as well as through families,"
she said, adding that "Eliminating domestic violence will have a
positive impact on society."
The Afghan government and its allies have made significant progress in
reaching a political solution to the war, thus preparing the grounds and
conditions for talks with the Taliban, said Sarabi.
"The Afghan government and other countries involved are trying to
provide and prepare this ground," she said, referring to efforts by
Afghanistan, the United States and other international players to
reconcile with the Taliban.
"However, we strive for women to play a part in political peace, as well
as in social peace," Sarabi said. "We believe that sustainable political
peace cannot be realised until social peace is achieved."
"Mothers shape the foundation of families," said Sajiya Baygum, a senior
advisor to Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah on women's and youth
"When a mother raises a child and presents him or her to society, he or
she will play a vital role in the social structure provided that the
child was properly raised," she told Salaam Times.
"The Afghan government provides women and families the opportunity and
the necessary role to become involved in the peace process," she said.
"In this peace process, the Afghan government is not the only
responsible party because Afghans, and especially families, are also
involved and accountable for this process."
"When a mother tells something to her family, the family members quickly
accept it," she said. "This is even true about families of the armed
opposition, which can eventually lead us to peace."
© Salaam times - editor Gino d'Artali