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Jakarta Post

Retno moves forward with planned Indonesia-Afghanistan women’s network

  • Dian Septiari
    Dian Septiari

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, February 27, 2020   /   03:15 pm
Retno moves forward with planned Indonesia-Afghanistan women’s network Afghan women wait to receive food donations from a private charity in Mazar-i-Sharif on June 12, 2018, during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. (AFP/Farshad Usyan)

Indonesia plans to establish a women's network with Afghanistan to encourage Afghan women to contribute to the peace process in the war-torn country, the Indonesian Foreign Minister announced on Monday.

"In early March, together with Indonesian women leaders, I plan to visit Kabul to formalize the formation of the Afghanistan-Indonesia Women's Women's Network," Retno L.P. Marsudi said in a press statement issued on Monday in Geneva. 

The minister is a speaker at an event of the Good Human Rights Stories Initiative being held on the sidelines of the 43rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), which runs from Feb. 24 to March 20 in the Swiss capital.

Indonesia was elected in 2019 as a council member for the 2020-2022 term.

As Indonesia’s first female foreign minister who has championed women’s empowerment in foreign policy and peacebuilding, Retno has been encouraging the empowerment of Afghan women so they might play a more significant role in peacebuilding. She has consistently called for more inclusive policies and the promotion of affirmative action in the ultra-patriarchal country.

Last year, Indonesia hosted a dialogue featuring dozens of Afghan women led by Acting Minister for Information and Culture Hasina Safi, and promised to follow the dialogue with training and skilling projects for Afghan women. 

Indonesia has offered various forms of assistance over the years in support of the Afghan peace process, from training Afghan diplomats and hosting dialogues, to establishing the Indonesia Islamic Center (IIC) in Kabul.

In May 2019, Jakarta hosted a trilateral ulema conference with participants from Indonesia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Two months later in July, then-vice president Jusuf Kalla met with the Taliban's de facto political leader, Abdul Ghani Baradar, in an effort to broker peace between the movement and the Afghan government.

"Indonesian women have played a role in promoting peace not only at the national level, but also at regional and global levels," said Retno, referring to the many Indonesian women working in a variety of UN peacekeeping operations around the world.

The UN has encouraged countries to deploy a peacekeeping force composed of at least 15 percent female personnel, and Jakarta has declared a commitment to increase the composition of women in its peacekeeping force to 10 percent.

According to the Indonesian Military, however, the current ratio of women in Indonesia’s peacekeeping delegations hovers at just 4 percent. 

"Women's empowerment is an important element in the promotion and protection of human rights," said Retno, who also spoke about women's empowerment during the UNHRC session.

In addition, she mentioned the importance of preventing human rights violations and strengthening the UNHRC's synergy in promoting and protecting human rights, in particular the issue of human rights for the Palestinian people.

"Non-fulfillment of the basic rights of the Palestinian people, exacerbated by the plan to build more illegal settlements on Palestinian land, is an example of human rights violations that must be resolved immediately," she said. 

Indonesia was also working on establishing the Southeast Asia Network of Women Peace Negotiators and Mediators in an aim to "strengthen the contribution of women in promoting sustainable peace in the region" the statement said.

Toward this end, Indonesia has hosted regional training workshops on women, peace and security to increase the capacity of female peace negotiators and mediators in conflict resolution and mediation, it added.