Canada's NDP


February 5th, 2021

Letter to Minister Garneau

Regarding the Government of Canada's role in intra-Afghanistan peace talks and my concerns regarding the exclusion of important issues of women's rights.

Dear Minister Garneau,

I am writing to you regarding the Government of Canada’s role in intra-Afghanistan peace talks and my concerns regarding the exclusion of important issues of women’s rights.

Over the past decade Canada has invested over CAD $3.3 billion in the development and security in Afghanistan, with an emphasis on women and girls’ equal rights to education and health, and support to civil society. The gains have been substantive.

Afghanistan is currently going through peace talks after almost two decades of violent conflict following an agreement reached between US and the Taliban in February 2020. The first round ended, with nominal progress, in December 2020, and the second round is now underway, in Doha. There has been an increase in violence since February as the Taliban uses violence to leverage their negotiating position. In 2020 alone, over 6000 civilians (including women and children) were killed, with targeted killings of women educators, journalists, and just recently, supreme court judges.

For over four decades, everyday life in Afghanistan has been dominated by war and violence, and now Afghans deserve a lasting peace. The Government of Canada has supported Afghan women throughout the past two decades. But it also now needs to use its diplomatic resources and clout to full effect to demonstrate global leadership for women, peace and security, and to amplify Afghan women’s demands for the protection of their basic rights. Now is the time that Canada must take a forceful position demanding the protection of the rights of women and girls.

Strides have been made in recent years to improve the liberties of women and girls in Afghanistan, but there is still a way to go. ​ I urge the Government of Canada to push for the following actions to be adopted:

  1. Appoint a Special Envoy from Canada to act as an observer at the peace talks, with a mandate to uphold the provisions of UN SC Resolution 1325, drawing from the precedent of the appointment of Special Envoys to Syria, and to Yemen.
  1. Through diplomatic channels and in public forums, press the Government of the United States to use every available mechanism to enforce a true and unconditional ceasefire as a non-negotiable requirement for intra-Afghan peace talks to proceed further.
  1. Consult with and include Afghan women in such channels and forums, amplifying their demands and recommendations at every opportunity.

Canada must be a leader on promoting gender equity, including the intra-Afghanistan peace talks to ensure women rights are protected and that women are integrated in peace and security agendas.

Thank you for your consideration on this important topic. If you’d like to discuss these recommendations, please do not hesitate to contact my office.


Heather McPherson

M.P. for Edmonton Strathcona

Critic for International Development

Deputy Critic for Women and Gender Equality