11 Nov 2009

Conflicting Women’s Rights – Human Rights Framework to Women’s Role in Post Conflict Countries

Obed Kabanda, ACODEV.

If we want issues of human rights violations and impunity to remain on the agenda of international diplomacy, civil society needs to highlight these issues continuously, was the conclusion of the seminar organized by KIOS on 10-11 November 2009 in Helsinki. Approximately hundred professionals took part in the two-day seminar to discuss promotion of women´s rights in post-conflict countries. Key speakers of the seminar were KIOS project partners from Afghanistan, DRC, Kenya, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Uganda.

In a conflict women’s rights are the first victim

The key speakers of the seminar shared information about the problems women face in post-conflict situations but also the good experiences and best practises in human rights work. Human rights activist Horia Mosadiq from Afghanistan and Tanveer Jahan from Democratic Commission for Human Development in Pakistan told that it is the women who have suffered most in fragile situations and especially when religious extremism rises.

“Our constitution is considered as one of the most liberal ones in the region,” says Mosadiq, but continues: “There are still big problems, such as the presence of human rights violation perpetrators in the parliament. There are people there who have blood in their hands.”

Also Descartes Mponge Malasi from Actions des Chrétiens Activistes des Droits de l´Homme à Shabunda in Democratic Republic of Congo reminded that even the most advanced laws do not necessarily guarantee the realization of human rights on the ground:

“We have a good legislation, but why is the impunity still increasing?”

Maija Jäppinen, Amnesty International Finnish Section. Photo: KIOS

Maija Jäppinen, Amnesty International Finnish Section. Photo: KIOS

The seminar offered encouraging examples of women’s rights activism within civil society. Obed Kabanda from Uganda described how his organization, Action for Community Development, has managed to change the post-conflict culture of violence against women by raising awareness about human rights and by using positive methods and discussion groups to involve men. Joy Mbaabu from a Kenyan organization Amani Communities Africa told how women can be a part of the process of transitional justice. She reminded about the importance of capacity building for women so that they can promote their own rights and be part of the transitional processes.
The discussion and views were also extended outside the civil society by Captain Krister Fahlstedt from Swedish Armed Forces who described the gender equality promotion work of international troops in Afghanistan.

International instruments’ role in supporting human rights

The theme of the seminar was very timely since this year marks the 30th anniversary of Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Next year will be the 10th anniversary of the UN Security Council’s resolution 1325, which addresses the impact of war on women and women´s contributions to conflict resolution.

The role of these and other international instruments in promoting human rights was one of the main discussion topics. Professor Niklas Bruun presented possibilities of temporary special measures (positive discrimination) and their use in post conflict situations, which is a concrete recommendation of CEDAW. Seminar guests agreed that conventions and recommendations are supporting the promotion of women’s rights, but many of the speakers were also concerned about the lack of implementation. Governments in fragile states are prone to sign international conventions but they are less willing to channel resources to implementation. The speakers appealed to the international community to oversee that the crimes are not ignored and the funding for governments that violate human rights should been stalled.

Key facilitators

  • Ms. Horia Mosadiq, Human Rights Activist from Afghanistan
  • Ms. Tanveer Jahan, Director, Democratic Commission for Human Development, Pakistan
  • Mr. Obed Kabanda, Executive Director, Action for Community Development, Uganda
  • Mr. Descartes Mponge Malasi, Executive Director, Actions des Chrétiens Activistes des Droits de l´Homme à Shabunda, DRC
  • Ms. Joy Mmaabu, Executive Director, Amani Communities Africa, Kenya
  • Mr. Samwel Mohochi, Executive Director, Independent Medico-Legal Unit, Kenya
  • Mr. Jorma Julin, Director General, Department for Development Policy, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland
  • Ms. Miia Rainne, First Secretary, Unit for Human Rights Policy, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland
  • Mr. Niklas Bruun, Member of CEDAW Committee, Professor of Private Law, University of Helsinki
  • Ms. Pia Puu Oksanen, Vice Chairman, 1325 Network of Finland
  • Mr. Krister Fahlstedt, Captain, Gender Field Adviser, Swedish Armed Forces, Afghanistan

Sessions were chaired by:

  • Ms. Rosa Puhakainen-Mattila, UN Association of Finland
  • Mr. Esa Ylikoski, Chairperson of KIOS Executive Board, Finnish Peace Committee
  • Ms. Inka Leisma, Member of KIOS Executive Board, UN Association of Finland
  • Ms. Maija Jäppinen, Member of KIOS Executive Board, Amnesty International Finnish section
  • Ms. Niina Pitkänen, Member of KIOS Executive Board, Service Centre for Development Cooperation KEPA
  • Mr. Jani A. Seikkula, Member of KIOS Executive Board, Finnish Refugee Council
  • Ms. Elisa Mikkola, Executive Director, The Finnish NGO Foundation for Human Rights KIOS


Time: 10–11 November 2009 at 8.15–16.00 Venue: Allergiatalon kongressikeskus, Paciuksenkatu 19, 00270 Helsinki The seminar was held in English.


Related organisations

  • Action for Community Development – Uganda
  • Action des Chrétiens Activistes des Droits de l’Homme à Shabunda

Related news (4)

20 Nov 2019

Music that Brought Solace to Troubled Minds: A Gift for Children in Prison

In Pakistan, the children in prisons are a forgotten population. One day the Child Rights Unit (CRU) of the Dastak Charitable Trust decided to do something that had never been done in any prison in Pakistan: to bring a popular band to play for the children in prison.