One January 1, 2017, Afghanistan Public Policy Research Organization (APPRO) launched its NAP 1325 monitor Project, funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) for a period of 4 years.
The Government of Afghanistan is signatory to numerous treaties on women’s rights. There is general admission and recognition, however, that progress towards meeting treaty obligations has been slow in such areas as violence against women, mistreatment of children, women’s rights violations by security forces and armed opposition groups (AOGs), inadequacies within the formal justice system to protect women’s rights, and unaccountability of formal authorities. Weak governance mechanisms, inadequate access to formal justice, corruption in the formal justice system, insufficient institutionalization of various protective laws and gaps in knowledge of rights violations have been pointed to as the main drivers of Afghanistan’s failure to meet its women’s rights obligations.
The existing Afghan legislative framework, though necessary, is not sufficient for protecting and promoting women’s rights and defenders of women’s rights. The National Action Plan for Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA) is a clear case in point. Despite the significant publicity around the launch of NAPWA and various statements of support and commitment by the Government of Afghanistan and its international partners, NAPWA is all but forgotten a few years after 2008 and has had little or no bearing on the policy making processes of the Government of Afghanistan, all of which affect the female half of the population in most significant ways. In addition, none of the many gains made by and for women since 2008 has had a direct relation to NAPWA.
A necessary component for reconciling women’s rights according to the law and women’s rights in practice is the role to be played by civil society and women’s rights organizations, particularly in the aftermath of Farkhunda’s tragic death in 2015, in creating the crucial linkage between the state’s regulatory provisions and the basic rights of women. The need for this linkage has been given an additional momentum by the release in June 2015 of Afghanistan’s National Action Plan (NAP) for UNSCR 1325. NAP 1325 could act as the policy instrument to set in motion a process of institutionalization of women’s rights protection and promotion in Afghanistan through ongoing, evidence-based interface between civil society and the government.
NAP 1325 Monitor will carry out a full implementation analysis of Afghanistan’s NAP 1325 over a period of four years consisting of robust monitoring, related in-depth research, evaluations, and training and mentoring to build capacity of government and civil society organizations to support the operationalization of NAP 1325 in Afghanistan.
NAP 1325 Monitor will to contribute to good governance in gender-focused programming and policy implementation through informed and constructive engagement and advocacy by civil society aimed at local (provincial), national and international stakeholders. This includes a strong focus on multi-actor partnerships, notably the role of civil society at large and women’s rights organizations in particular, to create linkages between society and its public institutions. These linkages are expected to result in government transparency, responsiveness, and accountability on its commitment to protect and promote women’s basic rights, as articulated in NAP 1325.
The key, multi-faceted, outcome of this program will be increased capacity and evidence-based responsiveness of public institutions to protection and promotion of women’s rights in Afghanistan consistent with the requirements of UNSCR 1325, related Resolutions, and Afghanistan’s NAP 1325.
The specific objectives of NAP 1325 Monitor are to:
- Establish baseline conditions based on the available information, particularly APPRO’s own ongoing work on challenges faced by women throughout Afghanistan, and report negative and positive changes for action and learning, respectively. The findings from ongoing monitoring are expected to feed into state-civil society interface on WPS objectives as outlined in Afghanistan’s NAP 1325. Ongoing monitoring will compile an up-to-date evidence base for advocacy by women and their organizations and responsive action by the government. Monitoring will be carried out using a standardized methodology based on a comprehensive set of indicators developed from the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325), subsequent related resolutions, and Afghanistan’s NAP 1325.
- Generate practical policy recommendations for interventions by civil society and the government on meeting WPS objectives as specified in UNSCR 1325 and Afghanistan’s NAP 1325. APPRO will work with women-centered civil society organizations on evidence-based, constructive advocacy to engage state actors and with state actors on how to utilize evidence-based, constructive advocacy messaging for more inclusive, relevant, and effective policy making on WPS.
- Disseminate information from the monitoring and related research to national audiences and international audiences through APPRO-Europe in Brussels and other international fora with a focus on Afghanistan and/or women’s peace and security.
This monitoring, research, and training program is also expected to prove useful in identifying entry points for the implementation of Sweden’s own NAP 1325 and its implications for Swedish foreign policy and Sweden’s development aid programming in Afghanistan.
Thirty-three districts in 12 provinces will be the sites of this intervention. The provinces are Kabul, Bamyan, Daikundi, Balkh, Kunduz, Samangan,, Nangarhar, Laghman, Khost, Kandahar, Nimruz, and Herat. In a volatile environment with a rapidly evolving security situation, the selection of these provinces is based on factors ensuring heterogeneity in the social, political, economic and security situation of the target provinces. These include geographical repartition across the Afghan territory, heterogeneity of socio-economic profiles, and diversity in security situation and development focus.
The findings generated through monitoring will provide accurate, up-to-date, and practical information on the conditions of women in rapidly changing environments. The availability of monitoring information is likely to feed into decisions by the Government of Afghanistan and the international community on programming for Women, Peace, and Security objectives as outlined in Afghanistan’s NAP 1325.
The objectives for NAP 1325 Monitor will be met by three interrelated project components:
- Component 1 will establish the current conditions of women’s rights in 13 provinces in Afghanistan based on the existing information and APPRO’s extensive work throughout Afghanistan focusing on women’s rights and how these rights are being affected by significant changes since 2011. The subsequent, regular monitoring reports will generate up-to-date information on women’s rights conditions for a period of four years.
- Component 2 will provide structured training and mentoring to enhance synergies between civil society actors, women’s rights organizations, and relevant government stakeholders in constructive, evidence-based advocacy by civil society and responsive policy design and implementation by the Government of Afghanistan in meeting its WPS commitments and monitoring of progress on NAP 1325 objectives through tailor-made trainings, regular mentoring and follow up, and facilitation.
- Component 3 will monitor the commitment by, and accountability, of key government institutions in the implementation of NAP 1325 through the establishment of a scorecard to report on progress on NAP 1325 objectives, with the results being disseminated and followed up by a dedicated sub-committee of the National Advocacy Committee for Public Policy (NAC-PP). More information on the NAP 1325 sub-committee is available through: http://www.nac-pp.net/category/nap-1325/
The findings from the monitoring will feed into the development of tailor-made capacity building and support for women’s rights’ actors and state institutions relevant to the implementation of NAP 1325, and allow for informed advocacy through NAC-PP’s NAP 1325 sub-committee on women’s rights at provincial, national, and international levels as an integrated component of the policy making process.
The resultant close working relationship and increased interface between civil society and government authorities, particularly between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, TWG members and civil society and women’s rights’ organization is expected to increase synergies between the government and its polity, facilitate moving toward better (or good) governance on women’s place in society and their key roles in conflict resolution and peace processes, and government accountability on how it addresses the many inequalities faced by Afghan women.
Project Alignment with Afghanistan’s NAP 1325
NAP 1325 Monitor will have a sectoral approach focusing on key sectors and relevant ministries where women can and must play strategic roles. The key sectors for NAP 1325 Monitor will be: Justice, Health, Education, Labor, and Displaced communities.
APPRO currently has Memoranda of Understanding with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Public Health, and the Ministry of Education for other projects. APPRO is also in the process of signing MoUs with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs, Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled, Ministry of Refugees and Returnees, and Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority.
Photo credit: Oriane Zerah
 Amnesty International, “Too many missed opportunities: Human rights in Afghanistan under the Karzai administration”, April 2014.
 See, for example, Common Wealth and Foreign Office Corporate Report, October 2014, at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/afghanistan-country-of-concern/afghanistan-country-of-concern
 For more information of why NAPWA failed, and how it could succeed, see APPRO (2014), A Critical Assessment of NAPWA, available from: http://appro.org.af/a-critical-assessment-of-napwa/
 In this case, good governance refers to the capacity of relevant stakeholders in Afghanistan, including the public institutions, civil society actors (particularly women’s rights organizations), and international actors to effectively address the needs of the Afghan women in gaining access to their basic human rights.
 For more information on APPRO-Europe, see: www.appro-europe.net
 APPRO has current data and ongoing data collection on 18 provinces and thus the necessity for a baseline for NAP 1325 Monitor will be unlikely. APPRO may propose the collection of some additional data if the existing data is assessed as lacking specific information. The final list of provinces and districts in each province will be finalized in consultation with Sida.
 The proposed 4-year length of this program may be changed, subject to consultations with Sida.
 The trainings for government officials and civil society and women’s rights organizations will be conducted based on internationally recognized curricula, implemented by APPRO in Kabul and certified by Ghent University (Belgium).
 These ministries are consistent with the key ministries specified in Afghanistan’s NAP 1325.
 These last two entities will be instrumental for NAP 1325 objectives on Pillar 4, Relief and Recovery.