Afghan women, Taliban and peace talks

Afghan women will protest if their demands are not taken into consideration at peace negotiating table, says Masouda Karokhi, a female MP who represents Herat in the parliament.

With US-Taliban peace settlement is expected to resume, women rights activists in the western Herat city voice concerns over consequences of a peace deal that is likely to be concluded in the absence of women representatives.

Speaking at a gathering titled ‘Women as Pioneers of Peace’, a number of Afghan women expressed deep concerns over what they called uncertain future of women in Afghanistan. They issued a 13-point resolution, and called on the UN Security Council, the Afghan government, and other negotiating parties not to neglect role of women in the afghan peace process.

Masouda Karokhi

After the collapse of misogynist Taliban regime in 2001, the Afghan women got new opportunities to fight for their basic rights such as rights to get education, work in offices and outside homes. Today, a sizable number of Afghan women work in offices, run businesses and represent their communities in the Afghan parliament, and a small number of them hold key positions in government and NGO offices. In the past 18 years, the Afghan women have changed much.      

Sakina Husseini, organizer of the program, told Kabul Now that the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has promised to share the 13-point resolution with the Afghan government, negotiating parties, and the United Nations Security Council. Ms. Husseini says the resolution is a reflection of women thoughts and concerns over peace settlement with the Taliban.  

She underlined that Afghan women support international community’s efforts to bring peace and stability to the country but the process should be led by the Afghan government. These Afghan women, most of whom have seen Taliban in power, fear that they have no idea what the future government in Kabul might look like.

Sakina Husseini

Noria Ahmadi, a rights activist from Ghor province, says women in Ghor went through a tough and dark time during the Taliban era. She warns that Taliban policies exercised during their time in power should not be repeated. Ms. Ahmadi said women are the prime victim of war and they must not be ignored in peace talks.

Taliban policies exercised during their time in power should not be repeated.

After nearly two decades of direct fight, the US government led by President Donald Trump opened a direct talks with old foe, the Taliban fighters. In 2001 after attacks on US business hub, the Bush administration launched attack on the Taliban regime which then was harboring key leaders of al-Qaida, a terrorist network that claimed responsibility of the attack on American twin towers in New York.     

Mozhgan Entezar, an woman rights activist, calls on the international community to protect women rights in the Afghan peace process.

Afghan women participating in Women as Pioneers of Peace initiative held in Herat

Abdul Qayyum Rahimi, the governor for Herat province, however, assures that the Afghan government will take women rights and achievements gained in the last years into account in peace talks with the Taliban.

Taliban representatives in the group’s Doha office, though insist on peace talks as the only way to end the 18-year long conflict, have refused to open a direct talks with the Afghan government. Afghan officials, however, say that a ceasefire is precondition to peace talks, something the Taliban leaders have refused so far.       

Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, arrived in Doha, the Qatari capital, on December 07, to resume peace talks with the Taliban. Khalilzad met a group of Afghan women in Kabul months ago. Mr. Khalilzad, according to women who were present at the meeting, has said that the achievements gained in the past 18 years will not be compromised.

Many women rights activists, who are cynical about the US-Taliban political settlement, say without presence of Afghan women at the table, Khalilzad’s terms and even his likely good will are unlikely to change Taliban’s anti-women attitude and idea.