Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, November 16th, 2019

Role of Afghan Women Vital in Intra-Afghan Talks

Afghan women have largely been excluded from political decision making in the course of the history. Thus, women were largely excluded from the Bonn process. Since then, they have made significant gains in rights and political participation. However, despite Afghanistan adopting in 2015 a National Action Plan on United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, opportunities for women remain limited.
U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad headed to Qatari capital to start the 9th round of talks with Taliban negotiators.  He then will travel to Kabul to meet with Afghan leaders how to initiate Intra Afghan talks after a deal could be reached to end the near 18-year war in Afghanistan.
There are many concerns about the Taliban return to the power; women rights, is one of the major concerns. Considering that under Taliban rule prior to 2001, even basic freedoms were denied to women such as going to school, speaking publicly, leaving the house without a male chaperone, among others women are more curious to know about what final decisions would be taken about the basic human rights and women rights in the future.
Islam has granted women with all fundamental rights such as doing business, holding a possession, right to inheritance , education, work, choosing a life partner, security, health and life. As a result, Afghan women want rights that Islam has given them. Islam does not stop women from getting education or work, so women should have their presence in all parts and they urge this issue should be clearly talked in peace negotiations.
However, Afghan women don’t want a peace that will make the situation worse for women’s rights compared to now. With this background in mind, the absence of Afghan women in the talks means more than a failure of political correctness. It means that women in the country do not know what is going to happen in their lives in the future; the days of Taliban oppression of women could return if they do not guarantee that women’s rights, enshrined in the constitution, will be upheld in any future power-sharing arrangement. This reaffirms the notion that the aim of a peace process should not only be to end violent conflict but also to build a lasting peace. The absence of women and their voices in the process casts doubt on the type of peace that these talks would bring to the country.
However, women must raise their voices louder than any other time so they are not forgotten and Afghan citizens including women must clearly convey this message to the negotiators that without women it will be a broken peace.
Different studies including a research done in part by Anna Tonelli, show that the exclusion of women from peace negotiations is a predictor of failure for peace negotiations. As a result, Afghanistan would never have a stable peace unless women were given a wider role in peace talks. Therefore, as discussions in the Afghan peace process move away from issues of hard security and the use of violence, it is now more crucial than ever to think about the quality of peace and strategies to sustain the peace. This is where a more inclusive process and effective implementations of the gender-related provisions of any future peace agreements gain more importance in the Afghan context. For a way forward, however, different actors’ support and commitment would be essential.
In a nutshell, the Afghan government and the US chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad must assure women in practice that their rights will not be affected negatively after a peace deal with the Taliban. Now, it is time to fully involve women in the coming talks with the Taliban to clearly define and ensure their place in future. Afghanistan has come a long way to achieve the rights women have now and they must be safeguarded not to lose them after a peace deal.