Protection Policy for Women Under Conflict and Emergency Situations (AF0008)
Action Plan: Afghanistan Action Plan 2017-2019
Action Plan Cycle: 2017
Lead Institution: Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA)
Support Institution(s): Ministry of Interior, State Ministry for Disaster Management, Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations, Ministry of Public Health, IDLG, Ministry of Rural Development and Rehabilitation, and Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, AIHRC, Afghan Women Network, international partner organizations, especially UNDP, UN-Women, USAID and other relevant CSOs
Policy AreasGender, Human Rights, Legislation & Regulation, Participation in Budget Processes, Public Participation, Public Service Delivery
What is the public problem that the commitment will address?: Conflict and emergency situations disproportionately affect women and there is lack of a specific mechanism the related agencies can use to address the issues women face in these situations such, but not limited to, sexual violence, internal displacement, poverty and loss of access to education and health care services, and psychological trauma. Lack of such a mechanism has adversely affected different aspects of women’s well-being. This situation may harm women more than any other social strata by restricting their access to adequate food, safety, health and mental health provisions and services.; What is the commitment?: In order to reduce vulnerability of women under conflict and emergency situations, MoWA, in collaboration with related ministries, agencies and local governance entities, CSOs, women’s rights organizations, international partner organizations and other relevant actors will develop a protection policy for women under conflict and emergency situations. After finalization of the policy, it will be submitted for approval to Cabinet.; How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem?: This commitment will enable the related agencies mentioned above to present their ideas and proposals to be incorporated into the protection policy for women under conflict and emergency situations.
In order to implement this commitment, MoWA will first establish a committee composed of the related government agencies, women rights organizations, CSOs and international organizations. This committee will be responsible for drafting the protection policy for women under conflict and emergency situations.
The established committee will develop the policy and share it with the related governmental and non-governmental agencies for their comments. After collecting all comments, the committee will incorporate them and develop the final draft and will then send it for approval to the Cabinet.
With the approval of this policy, a specific mechanism will be established to protect women under conflict and emergency situations.
The committee will prepare and finalize an action plan to facilitate the implementation of the policy. Consequently, the implementation of the policy and its action plan is expected to reduce vulnerability of women in conflict and emergency situations, and address their needs and issues on a timely basis.; Why is the commitment relevant to OGP values?: This commitment is relevant to OGP values as it is inclusive of public participation, as it leads to the development of a protection policy in consultation with related CSOs, women’s human rights organizations, and women focused international organizations.; Additional information: This commitment will be funded by MoWA and will underscore the Afghanistan’s SDG commitment Goal 5 which stipulates ‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.’ This goal includes 5 specific targets which highlight’s Afghanistan’s commitment to Resolution 1325 thereby touching upon the issues mentioned above that affect women in conflict and emergency situations.
IRM Midterm Status Summary
Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:
“Conflict and emergency situations disproportionately affect women and there is lack of a specific mechanism the related agencies can use to address the issues women face in these situations such, but not limited to, sexual violence, internal displacement, poverty and loss of access to education and health care services, and psychological trauma. Lack of such a mechanism has adversely affected different aspects of women’s well-being. This situation may harm women more than any other social strata by restricting their access to adequate food, safety, health and mental health provisions and services.
In order to reduce vulnerability of women under conflict and emergency situations, MoWA, in collaboration with related ministries, agencies and local governance entities, CSO’s, women’s rights organizations, international partner organizations and other relevant actors will develop a protection policy for women under conflict and emergency situations. After finalization of the policy, it will be submitted for approval to Cabinet.Milestone activities and verifiable deliverables
- MoWA will establish a committee comprised of related government agencies, women rights organizations, CSO’s and international organizations who will be responsible for drafting the protection policy for women under conflict and emergency situations.
- The committee will draft the protection policy for women under conflict and emergency situations.
- The committee will hold one consultation session in Kabul attended by related government agencies, women rights organizations, and CSO’s from the provinces. Their feedback will be incorporated into a final draft of the protection policy by the committee.
- Approval of the Protection Policy by the Cabinet.
- The committee will prepare and finalize an action plan to facilitate the implementation of the policy.”
Start Date: January 2018
End Date: August 2019
Editorial Note: This is a partial version of the commitment text. For the full commitment text from the Afghanistan National Action Plan see: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/commitment/08-protection-policy-women-under-conflict-and-emergency-situations
Context and Objectives
The main objective of this commitment is to develop and approve a Protection Policy for Women under Conflict and Emergency Situations, with a focus to support to the most vulnerable such as widows, divorced women, and disabled women. This is one of the commitments that was introduced by a non OGP civil society organization called Afghan Women Press Office.  The director of the mentioned organization, whom the IRM researcher interviewed, had participated one of the OGP’s seven working group sessions where she discussed the need to formulate a policy for women in emergency and conflict situation, linking it to the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (2000). 
The situation of women in Afghanistan is considered one of the worst in the world, both in comparison to Afghan men and with women in other countries.  Existing inequality and institutionalized discrimination is further augmented among women who experience war and/or emergency situations. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA) notes:
Women in situations of conflict and emergency are disproportionally prone to rape, migration, poverty and unemployment. They become IDPs [internally displaced persons] and lose opportunities to access education and health services. Lack of mechanisms to offer services to women under such circumstances affects various aspects of their lives – access to food, security, and health care services -- distinguishing them more than other groups in the society as a vulnerable population. 
Although the Afghan government adopted the National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA, 2008-2018) and developed its national Action Plan (NAP 1325) as a separate, additional measure in relation to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 in June 2015,  it has thus far not specifically addressed the problem of women in situations of war and other emergencies, such as earthquake and floods.
To address this lacuna, MoWA in collaboration with other related governmental bodies, CSO’s and the international community, aims to adopt a protection policy for women under conflict and emergency situations (the policy), followed by an action plan for its implementation. Although NAP 1325 has laid the foundation for this policy, the policy will devise specific mechanisms based on realities on the ground.
The specific areas the policy wishes to address are provision of: a) physical safety; b) safe shelters; c) psycho-social counseling; and d) legal support. The policy contains coordination among 12 institutions that include ministries, public institutions such as AIHRC and the Afghan Red Cross, international community and CSO’s. The policy stipulates each institution’s role and responsibility. For example, it states that the Ministry of Interior should allocate and train women staff for this purpose, or assign the Ministry of Justice the responsibility to raise awareness of citizens’ rights during situations of conflict and emergencies. The policy calls upon CSO’s to monitor the implementation of the policy and collaborate in accessing vulnerable women in various parts of Afghanistan.  This aspect makes the commitment relevant to the OGP value of civic participation.
MoWA has already shared the policy draft, which contains four chapters, with CSO’s and other related institutions. The government representatives interviewed for this report stated that the feedback they received from CSO’s contributed towards enriching the content of the policy. One such suggestion, as an example, related to protective measures not only during conflict and emergency situations but also those immediately after conflicts or emergencies.  CSO representatives consider this policy as enforcement towards women’s protection  and specific mechanisms by which women’s protection under conflict and emergency situation can be addressed. 
The commitment’s activities and milestones are specific enough to verify its completion. To address the vulnerability of women in conflict and emergency situations, the commitment intends to create coordination among various public institutions and CSOs. The commitment also raises awareness among officials in various ministries on women’s specific needs in such situations, a topic, which before was not on the government agenda. As written, this commitment has the potential to inform and change mindsets surrounding these issues, particularly among Afghan male public officials. In this regard, the role of CSOs, especially women’s groups, is critical as regards to the potential impact of the commitment, particularly considering that high government officials in Afghanistan are not well familiar with the international women’s rights instruments.  However, because the commitment as written does not directly aim to implement the policy under the current action plan, it falls short of transformative potential impact. The IRM researcher thus considers the potential impact of this commitment to be moderate.
The IRM Researcher suggests that this commitment should be prioritized and carried over to the next action plan, however, with a focus on policy implementation. To make the commitment more ambitious and transformative, the IRM Researcher suggests the following specific actions:
- MoWA in consultation with other partners and importantly CSO’s could select certain provinces and zones as its pilot project for the policy’s implementation. The IRM Researcher suggests not to exceed 10 provinces. Relatedly, CSO’s could develop a mechanism based on which they could carry their monitoring activity as well as awareness-raising campaigns.
- The next action plan should expand the role of CSO’s beyond monitoring the policy and facilitating to access vulnerable women. Awareness-raising is an important contribution that CSO’s can offer, which should be included in the action plan.
- Both government and CSO’s could develop a feedback mechanism where the affected population could express their views, including their specific needs, suggestions and complaints. The government and CSOs could appoint a joint team to assess the feedback they receive from the people and try to incorporate them in developing their future actions and activities.
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