One Big Thing: Afghan Peace Talks. Where are the Women?
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What is it?
- The U.S. and the Taliban are expected to sign a deal by the end of February with an Afghan-Taliban peace deal to follow shortly after. Many experts believe that these deals will finally bring an end to the U.S.’s nearly 20 year military presence in Afghanistan.
- While the Afghan peace process has been a slow and often frustrating process, Afghan women are keenly interested in the outcome of the U.S-Taliban deal in particular since women had few if any rights under Taliban rule.
- Since the ousting of the Taliban in 2001, women have been able to reintegrate into political, social and economic processes. Many women have transcended to the highest echelons of Afghan politics and society and are rightly concerned about a deal with the Taliban.
- An article from The Lily highlights Hosna Jalil – the deputy minister of Interior Affairs, and Maryam Sama – one of the youngest members of the Afghan Parliament. They express the progress women have made and look forward to a future where more women become leaders in Afghan society.
Why is it important?
- First, the terms of the U.S.-Taliban deal are unknown as of writing. Aside from the big questions about American troop withdrawals, the big question for Afghan women is what will happen to their rights they’ve gained during the past 20 years.
- Second, this is a U.S.-Taliban agreement. The Afghanistan government has not been included. What happens when or if the Taliban and Afghan government broker a deal? Who will be at the negotiating table? Will there be women who can ensure that women’s rights are front and center when negotiating with the Taliban.
- Including women at the negotiating table nets positive results for a longer lasting peace deals, according to a study by the Council on Foreign Relations. Similary, Our Secure Future notes that women in leadership positions will produce greater potential for peaceful outcomes. For this reason, both the Taliban, Afghan government and the US government must bring women to the table for these negotiations.
- Women’s rights still have a long way to go in Afghanistan, but a deal with the Taliban has many unanswered questions for women.
What can you do:
- Contact your Congressional representative about H.R.4097 - Afghan Women's Inclusion in Negotiations Act
- Read an opinion piece in the New York Times from the Taliban’s deputy leader and decide what you think about the peace they envision.
- Learn more about the issue from the United Nations, and U.S. Institute for Peace
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