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Within and Without the State: Afghanistan

Within and without state in AfghanistanSince the US-led overthrow of the Taliban regime in 2001, huge international investment has increased access to health and education for many, including girls, but so far has not delivered security and stability for the majority of the population.

Phase I

In Phase I, WWS focused on strengthening a network called the Afghanistan Civil Society Organisations Network for Peace (ACSONP). This network has around 100 members drawn from a wide range of CSOs. Activities included funding staff members, conducting trainings and facilitating an exchange visit to Azerbaijan. The network also devised an 'inclusive peace strategy' to complement the government's formal peace process. This strategy deliberately sought the voices of women and youth and hosted a National Youth Peace Debate in Kabul. Regional 'peace hearings' were held, bringing together provincial governors with women, youth and the media.

Working with women in dispute resolution

WWS also worked with women in their communities to support them in engaging with religious leaders in resolving community disputes. WWS worked in a number of different provinces testing out working with community peace negotiators including women at the local level. Some mullahs have now suggested that women qualified in Islamic law could work together with them on resolving conflict, tackling harmful traditional practices, and expanding the culture of tolerance. This approach worked particularly well in one province because the local partner spent years building relationships with influential mullahs, and to some extent the programme is relatively fragile as it's based on these close relationships.

Phase II

As a result of these findings and an overall WWS Gender review, in Phase II, WWS has focused on the possibility of harnessing women's potential as change-makers in one specific province. Learning from Phase I, WWS has now included a gender, power and conflict analysis to sharpen the approach. The training given to the women is already impacting community relations.

In Kabul, WWS has been working to strengthen civil society networks, in particular looking at entry points in the peace process including empowering women to take part. WWS is continuing to work with ACSONP, including policy and power mapping of the national unity government to monitor entry points into the peace process. WWS has also conducted an iterative real time evaluation to build in mechanisms for constant review of the project and to ensure the programme is learning from what has worked. 

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