Women elders are part of the informal justice system in Afghanistan
26 SEPTEMBER 2011 | NANGARHAR, AFGHANISTAN
Traditionally, village women in Afghanistan have taken a limited role in the justice system, acting as an invisible hand behind male elders in the decision making process. However, women are now stepping into the mediation forefront as the result of elders networks established by USAID.
USAID conducted numerous network meetings for some 2,100 elders (42 percent were women) across the districts in which it operates. These networks encourage male and female elders to discuss and improve local systems for alternative dispute resolution, paving the way for women elders to transition to more public dispute mediation roles in their local communities.
As an outcome of the meetings, 10 women's dispute resolution groups - known locally as Spinsary groups - have been established in Nangarhar, Laghman, and Kandahar provinces. Justice advisers and respected elders train the women in a range of dispute resolution techniques, traditional justice, and tribal customs.
As a result, the 10 Spinsary groups have resolved dozens of disputes.
"The group of Spinsary women brought peace to my home and community. If Spinsary didn't attend and resolve the dispute in my village, I would be in prison or killed by now," said Aajab Gul, who sought help from a Spinsary group to resolve a violent dispute in which he was involved.
Saifoora, a Spinsary from Qarghayee District in Nangarhar Province, said that since she received training in dispute resolution, she is getting the respect needed in her community for her to resolve disputes. "Many of the disputes I am helping to resolve begin as senseless disputes between children that can escalate to become a dispute between mothers and then between fathers," she said. "Having knowledge of Islamic law and Afghan law puts me in a position to mediate disputes before they become larger than they should be."
Last updated: January 07, 2015