Is there life in EP after Elections?

Have women’s rights in Afghanistan anything to do with Elections of European Parliament? Question came to my mind when I participated with my article –“Karzai’s administration “Worse than Taliban” into blogging campaign related to Elections 2009. The same could be said most of issues in electoral campaign. Both the voters as well candidates have foggy picture about the role EP in EU, about de facto power of EP in relation to its power de jure. Besides the public discussion is dominated by easy on-liners for media and comments about celebrity candidates on the other hand and integrating EU, EC and EP into a harmonious whole.

The electoral campaigns are mainly focusing to market a candidate and/or party to potential voters – the actual work in EP will be obscured and the whole idea of politics as dealing with mutual or particular reference group interests is forgotten.

My article

My “irrelevant” article referred the new law in Afghanistan which junked the women rights even behind those which were applied during Taliban regime. I asked how is this possible while EU is throwing billions of its taxpayers money to develop civil society in Afghanistan and I was afraid that the case is not unique in EU missions worldwide.

I criticized the gap between high flown aims and destructive practice, between progress in reports and backward development on the ground, which issues I earlier have handled in cases of Bosnia and Kosovo. I also proposed actions which could improve the practice.

EP and Afghan women

If EU is one of the main players developing Afghanistan so does EP have any role with this work? I cursorily checked EP actions with case and even if I got only small fragment of the whole the answer is yes – EP has had varied approaches to this topic. Here few examples:

  • EP has made many previous resolutions on Afghanistan e.g. that of 8 July 2008,
  • EP delegation made visit to Afghanistan from 26 April to 1 May 2008 with the purpose of examining the conditions of implementation of Community and international aid, and to the relevant mission report,
  • EP has appealed to all EU States and to the international community to ensure that all humanitarian assistance and future rehabilitation and reconstruction programmes integrate a gender perspective, that they actively attempt to promote the participation of both women and men, and that women benefit equally with men from those programmes;
  • European Parliament made resolution of 15 January 2009 on budgetary control of EU funds in Afghanistan (2008/2152(INI))
  • EP gets reports and has discussions on EU Aid effectiveness
  • European Parliament Resolution on Gender Aspects of Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding has been made(2000)
  • The Country Strategy Papers (for Afghanistan) and the Multi-Annual Indicative Programme (MIP) 2007 – 2010 are adopted by the Commission in agreement with Parliament,
  • EP recalls that gender equality and women’s rights are recognised as vital issues, both in the Afghan Government’s national development strategy and in the CSP 2007-2013, which establishes that the gender dimension will be an integral part of planning in the above-mentioned three focal areas (P6_TA-PROV(2009)0023 A6-0488/2008),
  • EP calls on the Afghan Government to ensure that the National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA), which was recently adopted, will receive satisfactory funding and be implemented in cooperation with civil society and women’s organisations; calls also on the Commission to ensure that its gender equality actions are transparent and harmonised with other actions of this type undertaken by the other donors in Afghanistan; calls, in this connection, for the Commission to submit a report analysing the extent to which gender equality has been taken into account to date in the programming of the overall financial assistance allocated by the EU (P6_TA-PROV(2009)0023 A6-0488/2008),
  • EP calls on the Commission and the Afghan Government, in view of the forthcoming presidential and parliamentary elections due to take place in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010 respectively, to continue to encourage and provide adequate funding for actions to promote the political emancipation of women, especially in the regions, given that in the last provincial council elections there were not enough women candidates to occupy the 124 seats designated for women in the provincial councils (P6_TA-PROV(2009)0023 A6-0488/2008),
  • EP Committee on women’s rights and equal opportunities has handled the Afghanistan gender question,
  • A View – Gender Aspects of Conflict Resolution – was given from The European Parliament,
  • In the European Parliament, the Subcommittee on Security and Defence (SEDE) has approved a working document ‘Gender Mainstreaming Action Plan’ (23 March 2007). The document aims to bring the Parliament towards the “dynamism of the Council in the field of gender mainstreaming into ESDP” by gender mainstreaming in the SEDE itself. It also wants the SEDE to scrutinise gender issues in ESDP and missions, as well as to initiate a report on ‘The gender impact of ESDP operations’ by the end of the parliamentary term in 2009.

Candidates differ

Celebrities, athletes, entertainers, talk show hosts and populists are dominating headlines in EP electoral campaign giving real but deplorable one-sided image about issues related to EP. However there is a small amount of candidates who are focusing also to substance and topics which they like to highlight in EP if selected there.

I e.g. have a dialogue with one candidate who is designing her (Yes indeed a woman candidate who has more guts and brains than most of her fellow competitors) Policy program. Her campaign includes also Balkan questions, 3rd world etc., she also knows those issues due the fieldwork experience in Balkans and Asia. I be that this kind of MEPs could de facto place in EP to influent also Afghan women problems.

Those 5 % of MEPs who take their job seriously can have their say in issues where EP strictly does not have the ultimate decision power “de jure”. They can raise these issues via various forms in EP as well through national governments.

On the bottom line my wish is that during electoral hype also voters taka into consideration the time after Elections.

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