New FBA assignment in Afghanistan

The Swedish government has commissioned FBA to increase its support to the peace process in Afghanistan, and to strengthen women’s participation therein, during the coming two years. “The security situation in Afghanistan is worsening but we will try to find effective and innovative ways to support a peaceful development”, says project leader Tobias Petrelius.

The Afghan government does not have full control of the entire country. Several of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces are currently under the influence of the Taliban. Other armed groups, such as IS, are also fighting to seize control, further destabilizing the state. Caught in the middle of all of this is the Afghan population, constantly affected by bombings and violent attacks.

There are many challenges but Tobias Petrelius is convinced that FBA’s work in Afghanistan can make a difference, albeit on a small scale.
– The security situation is worsening and working in Afghanistan poses enormous challenges. But we will contribute in every way that we can, he says.

FBA already has a commitment to peaceful development in Afghanistan. In 2016, the Swedish embassy in Kabul identified some 30 women from the different provinces in Afghanistan that play a role in conflict prevention and peace-building. The women are, for example, teachers or employed by the police, different state agencies or non-state organizations.

Based on the needs of these women FBA, in collaboration with the Swedish embassy in Kabul, developed a dialogue and mediation programme. On three occasions from the end of 2016 until the end of 2017 the women travelled to the FBA training in Kabul.
– The women are now trying to engage more effectively in conflict prevention and peace-building in their respective provinces. We will also continue to invite them to Kabul for regular meetings. They form a network now, and can support each other, Tobias Petrelius says.

Continuing to arrange further capacity building for the women in the network is one of the things the FBA will do in 2018 and 2019 in order to strengthen women’s participation in the Afghan peace process, in accordance with the new assignment given to the agency.

The other part of the new FBA assignment, concerning support to the Afghan peace process, will mainly consist of training initiatives as well, aimed at Afghans involved in the national peace process.
– This assignment is very interesting as it combines Sweden’s increased focus on dialogue and peace processes, and our feminist foreign policy. FBA’s cooperation with the Swedish embassy in Afghanistan has been fantastic, and we are also happy to be able to build on the work done by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) in Afghanistan, Tobias Petrelius says.

SIDA is tasked by the Swedish government to work with Afghanistan during 2014–2019. FBA’s new assignment for 2018–2019 will complement SIDA’s work.

Photo: UN Photo/Eric Kanalstein

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