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Widows Not Passive Victims: The Founding of Widows for Peace and Reconstruction

As Founder of EMPOWERING WIDOWS IN DEVELOPMENT (EWD) www.widowsrights.org/, and following participation September 20-21st at the Council of Europe's seminar on the "ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE PREVENTION AND RESOLUTION OF CONFLICT" it is clear that war widows are seen, if at all, exclusively as "victims" and not as key players with potential for empowerment and decision-making roles.

We are aghast at the refusal of the international community to react more sensitively to the plight of millions of Afghan widows, unable to flee their homes, without male protectors, who, having already suffered the most repellent human rights abuses at the hands of the Taliban, now are exposed to further multiple vulnerability. First, as the prime victims of any military incursion into Afghanistan, and secondly, should the West decide to support the Northern Alliance as the alternative government.

The Northern Alliance, as explicitly explained by RAWA (Revolutionary Afghan Women's Association) is as fundamentalist and abusive of women as the Taliban.

Millions of women are widowed by war, and many millions of children, dependent on widows, are orphaned. Yet their voices are not heard, they are not even counted. Widows must be given the opportunity to be key players in peace-building, reconstruction and the development of democracy and respect for human rights.

We announce the proposal to set up a new internet network WIDOWS FOR PEACE AND RECONSTRUCTION. We invite comments and assistance to make visible the invisible widows and their families, and to ensure their voices are heard, their needs addressed and their empowerment as decision-makers ensured.

Margaret Owen
36 Faroe Road
London W14 0EP

tel/fax: 44 207 603 9733

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