Ladies in Afghanistan fear peace accord with Taliban extremists might price them hard-won rights

Viewers members hearken to Afghan parliamentarian Fawzia Koofi communicate in 2014. Ladies’s entry to politics elevated enormously after the Taliban’s 2001 ouster. Sha Marai/AFP through Getty Photographs

Three Afghan girls who labored at a media firm had been gunned down in Jalalabad in early March. In January, unidentified gunmen killed two feminine Supreme Court docket judges in Kabul.

These are the newest victims on an extended checklist of assassinations and tried assassinations of feminine politicians and ladies’s rights activists. Such assaults have intensified because the authorities started peace negotiations with the Taliban militant group in September 2020. Up to now yr, 17 human rights defenders have been killed in Afghanistan.

The Taliban’s rule of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 was the darkest time for Afghan girls. Assuming an austere interpretation of Islamic Sharia and Pashtun tribal practices, the group restricted girls’s entry to schooling, employment and well being providers. Ladies had been required to be totally veiled and have male escorts in public.

We’re students of girls’s rights in Muslim majority nations, together with in Afghanistan. We now have been following Afghanistan’s peace talks with an eye fixed on gender, looking for to grasp how Afghan girls view the prospect of their authorities placing a power-sharing settlement with the group that oppressed them.

Sunny, blue-painted classroom full of smiling Afghan boys and girls

Sunny, blue-painted classroom stuffed with smiling Afghan girls and boys

Seat on the desk

Ladies are a pale presence within the on-again, off-again, U.S.-brokered Afghanistan peace course of underway in Doha, Qatar. The Taliban, which nonetheless controls roughly 30% of Afghanistan’s territory, has no girls on its negotiating staff. Solely 4 of the Afghan authorities’s 21 negotiators are girls – though a number of girls play outstanding roles throughout the nationwide authorities.

The previous six months of talks have demonstrated the contradictions between either side’s stance on girls’s equality and different central points.

The federal government intends to protect Afghanistan’s democratic establishments and structure, which ensures the rights of ladies and minorities as equal residents of an Islamic republic.

The Taliban, then again, is pushing for an Islamic emirate managed by a nonelected council of non secular leaders who rule primarily based on their conservative interpretation of Islam, based on unpublished evaluation by the nonprofit Ladies Residing Below Muslim Legal guidelines, the place we’re board members.

Men, some in suits and other in traditional Pashtun clothing, stand in a hotel conference room at a distance from each other, wearing face masks

Males, some in fits and different in conventional Pashtun clothes, stand in a resort convention room at a distance from one another, carrying face masks

Roya Rahmani, the Afghan ambassador to america, says having girls on its staff offers the Afghan authorities extra leverage to barter on girls’s rights. That’s essential as a result of our analysis signifies that the Taliban preserve their extremist stance on girls.

“The Taliban dwell of their Nineties universe they usually refuse to see the fact of Afghanistan and specifically the younger generations right now who see themselves entitled to human rights, schooling, and an open public sphere,” Palwasha Hassan, an Afghan girls’s rights activist, instructed us in an interview in December 2020.

The Taliban claims its views on girls have advanced. However in some Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan women are barred from getting an schooling after puberty – in violation of the Afghan structure. And whereas girls are elected and appointed to high-level posts nationally, their political participation is restricted in Taliban-controlled areas.

There’s a “hole between official Taliban statements on rights and the restrictive positions adopted by Taliban officers on the bottom,” based on the worldwide nonprofit Human Rights Watch.

Veiled women and some children stand on the street

Veiled girls and a few kids stand on the road

Ladies and warfare

Armed conflicts could also be primarily fought by males, who’re killed or injured, however girls are warfare victims differently – and due to this fact have completely different wants when it ends. Many lose their husbands and kids, and thus their earnings, and are disproportionately displaced by violence. Since rape is one weapon of warfare, girls could also be sexually assaulted or raped en masse.

In 2000, the United Nations adopted a decision emphasizing that ladies needs to be included in all post-conflict reconstruction efforts.

Colombia was the first nation to make sure gender fairness in its peace course of. In its landmark 2016 accord with the FARC insurgents, which was mediated by Sweden, girls had been on each the rebel and authorities negotiating groups, and the ultimate accord included a chapter outlining what help girls in battle zones would wish to begin companies, take part in politics, thrive in rural areas and the like.

Afghanistan, the primary large globally brokered peace deal to comply with Colombia’s, doesn’t comply with this mannequin.

In interviews with greater than 15 Afghan girls’s rights leaders, we heard frustration over girls’s exclusion from the peace talks given that ladies are the primary victims of Afghanistan’s 40-year battle.

These girls assist the hassle at nationwide reconciliation. However they cited the focused killings of ladies over the previous yr as purpose for concern that the Taliban’s disregard for human rights jeopardizes the longevity of any peace deal.

As one interview topic put it, “Taliban’s win is a win for ISIS, Boko Haram and different extremist teams.”

Focusing on girls

Outspoken critics of the Taliban’s undemocratic imaginative and prescient of peace have been threatened or killed.

In August 2020, Fawzia Koofi, an Afghan authorities negotiator and long-time Afghan parliamentarian, was shot within the arm in an tried assassination. The assault is an occasion of the gendered violence that ladies usually face as a method to deter them from taking part in politics.

Koofi refused to be silenced. Simply days after her damage, she flew to Doha to attend the peace talks.

The Afghan authorities has made current missteps on girls’s rights, too.

In 2020, the Afghan authorities dissolved the State Ministry of Human Affairs, led by Dr. Sima Samar, a key advocate for girls’s rights with almost twenty years of expertise on the Afghanistan Impartial Human Rights Fee.

Woman in hijab sits at a table with microphones between two men in sits, with international flags behind them

Girl in hijab sits at a desk with microphones between two males in sits, with worldwide flags behind them

This ministry, as the primary physique documenting and reporting on Afghanistan’s human rights standing, might have performed an instrumental position within the negotiations.

After the autumn of the Taliban within the 2001 U.S. invasion, girls eagerly embraced each alternative to advance professionally in numerous sectors, from politics to social providers. As we speak girls compose round 27% of the Afghan Parliament, one of many highest charges of ladies’s political illustration within the area.

“There is no such thing as a going again,” Zarqa Yaftali, a girls’s rights activist instructed us. “Ladies intend to information their nation in the direction of peace and stability.”

This text is republished from The Dialog, a nonprofit news website devoted to sharing concepts from tutorial specialists. It was written by: Mona Tajali, Agnes Scott School and Homa Hoodfar, Concordia College.

Learn extra:

Mona Tajali is affiliated with Ladies Residing Below Muslim Legal guidelines, a transnational feminist analysis community.

Homa Hoodfar is affiliated with the group Ladies Residing Below Muslim Legal guidelines, a transnational Feminist Analysis Community



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