Ministry of Women’s Affairs supervises Gender Policies in Afghanistan

There are many questions regarding vision and mission of MoWA, which is a newly established ministry and it was added into the Afghanistan’s civil services structure only a decade ago. Its vision is “A society free of gender discrimination”, and its mission is “To promote women's human capital, leadership and participation in all areas of life, and access to opportunities, services and facilities for growth and development”. This ministry is a bridge between women and government. On one hand, it is a supporter and advocate of the women interests, and on the other hand, it is responsible for the promotion and mobilization of women's human resources to participate in government programs.

The main goal of MoWA is to change the status of women. In order to achieve this, MoWA develops government plans and polices for women and monitors their implementation. The main role of this ministry is to monitor the implementation of national and international gender policies in Afghanistan. National gender polices are clearly incorporated in: Declaration of the Fundamental Rights of Women in Afghanistan-2001, Bonn and London Agreements, Afghanistan National Development Strategy, National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan, Constitution, Labor Law, Civil Services Employees and Elimination of Violence Against Women. Similarly, international gender policies are incorporated in: International Declaration of Human Rights, Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and in the United Nations Security Council’s Resolution 1325.

Policymaking requires comprehensive information. Information that is the result of analysis of surveys, statistics and monographs. MoWA makes vital and necessary policies for women with the views of interested parties. Such policies are approved, enacted and enforced upon assess and research by the technical and specialized administrations. The ministry also bears tough supervision role while enforcement and is responsible to report on its realization. Preparation and procurement of the draft of policies regarding women and supervision from its implementation based on wide-ranging surveys and statistics, are tough pross which its performance and follow up require organizational structures and broad possibilities, enough budget, resources, technical and modern technology.

This ministry since 2001, according to the Bonn Conference- Germany, as a point of contact between women’s cortex and the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) functions in the areas of developing awareness and capacity, integration and participation of women in national development. The Bonn Agreement, which is the founder and infrastructure of a democratic administration in Afghanistan, indicates that women’s participation and observing their rights and status are of requirements and considered as a throughout peace and construction process.

The Ministry of Women’s Affairs is one of the entities of the executive system and administrative structure of the GIRoA. The Executive system is one of the three pillars of a government. The entity is functional based on the Regulatory Affairs of Women Regulation of the MoWA which has been enforced by the Council of Ministers in article 24 of the chapter four.

Article two of this regulation describes, “Ministry of Women’ Affairs a central governmental administration that regulates and leads the affairs related its ToR in capital and provinces.”

MoWA is a member of the Executive System of the GIRoA and its minister is a member of the cabinet (Council of Ministers of the GIRoA). Its budget is delivered from the national budget and funded by the government. As it is stated in article 21 of Regulation on Regulatory Affairs of MoWA “the Tashkeel and budget of MoWA is approved by Councils of Ministers after recommendation of MoWA and confirmation of MoF”. Also, article 18 of this regulation describes the execution responsibility of this entity: “the decisions of board of management is made by majority of votes, and is enforced after being signed by the Minister. The decisions of board of management is enforceable on all relevant entities of the ministry.

The financial, administration and organizational execution of MoWA are dependent to the enforced laws and regulations of the country. This ministry regulates and prepares its activities according to governmental laws and programs and execute the decisions and decrees of the government. As article four of Regulation on Regulatory Affairs of MoWA describes; “MoWA considers enforced laws and decrees of the country, approvals of councils of ministers and provisions of this regulation as a principle in performing their activities and ensures its proper implementation in its scope of work”. Councils of Ministers of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan approved the National Action Plan for Women of Afghanistan which is prepared and drafted by MoWA as a historical document and stated it as its strategic plan and made all governmental entities responsible for its execution. The President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan clarified the position of the government regarding such plans in a message:

“women’s interests became the center of attention of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan since the establishment interim administration and the elected government. The government of Afghanistan, relying on principles and Sacred Religion of Islam and values of important national and international documents: Bonn Agreement, Constitution, London Agreement and National Development Plan, strives to ensure gender equality and social gender and elimination of any type of discrimination against women”. Hence, role of women is considered important to achieve the sublime goals of the national development. For this purpose, the government supported the layout of (National Action Plan for Women in Afghanistan) presented by MoWA to the Cabinet of I.R.A and bounded all the government Administration to implement it. MoWA will supervise realization of the mentioned plan. By signing this strategic program, I confirm role of women, their rights, responsibilities of the government institutions and the outlined presented by MoWA.

Therefore, all institutions of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, including Ministries and provincial local administrations are instructed to include and implement goals and values of national action plan for women in Afghanistan in their plans, budget and programs and to present their working reports on the implementation, responsibilities and commitments every six months through MoWA to the office of President of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. In the meantime, we ask international institutions to assist our government and people in realization of national action plan for women in Afghanistan. Implementation of national action plan for women in Afghanistan is a vital and historical duty of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. I believe, by implementing it, we would witness tangible and fundamental changes in livelihood of women in the Country.

Women, who, in terms of cortex cover all the layers and classes of the society, and are involved in all structures of a society, including government and civil institutions.  Women are inseparable of the society and serve their families, societies and governments same as men, and the service administrations too serve them upright. Serving women is not the responsibility of one or two administrations, but it is the responsibility of all administrations. Service administrations are busy working for men and women. MoWA, cannot be parallel with public service administrations, and have similar offices for women.  Like men, women too need services like health, education, security, transportation, legal and other types of social services like water, electricity, school and hospital. MoWA can’t have special service departments of all above fields for women. Organizing complete separate services departments for women like transport, court, police, customs, banks etc. causing the split and division of society and government. The characteristics of our society is that in some areas it is required to provide separate services like schools and hospitals, but the structure and budget will be one.

MoWA is an implementation monitoring and partially service providing organization. To play its role, this ministry has provincial departments of women affairs and its Tashkeel will extends to districts. MoWA is not primarily obliged to provide community or women's goods services, but it implements some new, non-traditional and developmental services in forms of small projects in a way that have no intervention in affairs of others and does not deviate MoWA from its central role in monitoring gender policies. Implementing sample and pilot projects is a positive motivation, guidance and a model for other departments.  MoWA often assigns such limited and temporary projects to the relevant departments after successful testing.

This ministry is neither a service organization in any specific field, nor it interferes in affairs of other service department, instead MoWA is their partners. The ministry, as a technical contributor to the service departments, monitors the delivery of services for women, designs some service projects for women, and conducts a trial for the projects for later conclusions and generalizations. This is a limited and temporary work that is delivered as a model and technical cooperation. However, the extensive and permanent handling of such service projects does not meet the mission of the Ministry. The mission is to change the negative mentality of the people towards the role and position of women and to change the direction of patriarchal history, most of which are busy performing activities of enlightenment. As we have already mentioned, the Ministry of Women's Affairs develops and formulates government policies towards women, and monitors its implementation in the context of inter-ministerial communication, and is accountable to report on changes and improvements in the status of women in the government. As stated in Article 3 of the Regulatory Affairs of Women Regulation of the Ministry of Women's Affairs:

"MoWA is responsible for implementing political and social policies of the state to ensure the development of women's legitimate rights in the country and to respect the lawfulness of their lives in the area of their activities."

Obligations of MoWA are also stipulated in the Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) which is approved in four chapters and 44 articles in 2010/2011.

Women’s area of service is very broad and includes most agencies. The ministry selects some development projects. At the present, it is working on providing some services to raise legal and lawful awareness, political and organizational capacities, legal counseling, job placement and vocational trainings, marketing for women's products, and support for vulnerable women in protection centers through conducting campaigns, preparing and publishing journals, building women's gardens, conducting workshops and seminars, setting up gender and designing institutes, organizing exhibitions, reviewing cases and complaints from women, and supervising women’s shelters.