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the power women can generate

January 15, 2008

A story from the Canadian Press could almost have been written in 1967, when many male journalists seemed to get the giggles any time a gal started to talk about the Royal Commission on the Status of Women.

But no, the piece was on the wire yesterday.

In it, the journalist wrote about “learned ladies” being “no nonsense” – having “typed up an agenda and minutes from their last meeting” (unlike the guys do). And, of course, the always-required description of what these women were wearing. Is the patronizing tone and retro stereotyping okay because these particular women live in Afghanistan?

Despite all this, the item is worth reading – it illustrates how women living in very hostile conditions can still insist that their voices be heard.

One thing not mentioned in the piece is United Nations Resolution 1325, and its relevance to the situation in Afghanistan, as it:

Urges Member States to ensure increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention, management, and resolution of conflict.

The oversight is understandable. Who is talking about it? A Google news search for the resolution’s mention in Canada came up with zero hits. None.

The hardship women face in that country is often mentioned by those explaining why we are there. And yet a panel assigned to “review, analyse and make recommendations on Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan beyond February 2009” makes no mention of Afghan women in its terms of reference.

Even the Afghanistan Reference Group, which did raise concerns about human rights and gender equality in its submission to the panel, made no specific reference to Resolution 1325.

John Manley’s Independent Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan is submitting its report at the end of the month.

The question stands: Will Canada take the equality of Afghan women seriously?

story sources

Even in conservative Kandahar, women adept at voicing concerns for society, The Canadian Press | January 14, 2008
Independent Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan, chaired by JOHN MANLEY. “The final report will be delivered to the Prime Minister in January 2008.”
(A 73.5 KB Microsoft Word download) Afghanistan Reference Group Submission to the Manley Panel, peacebuild.ca | December 01, 2008
UN Security Council Resolution 1325, United Nations Population Fund, “the first resolution ever passed by the Security Council that specifically addresses the impact of war on women, and women’s contributions to conflict resolution and sustainable peace.”
Equality First: The Royal Commission on the Status of Women, cbc.ca

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