Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, July 20th, 2019

A durable Peace Requires Meaningful Participation of Afghan Women in the Peace Talks

In a country like Afghanistan ravaged by war, social cohesion is usually worn-out. Populations are divided along multiple fault lines including ethnic and religious lines, with some specific communities denied access to social, political, religious or economic power because of how they identify themselves and are identified by others. These identities, which characteristically overlap, can include age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion and culture or language as well as physical, economic, and social status. Disintegration and competing identities within a society, coupled with real or perceived exclusion, can fuel violence and undermine peace building efforts as one of the most contributing factors to armed conflicts.
As a result, Building more durable peace in such societies, depends on healing the wounds and defusing the underlying tensions that have pulled apart the social fabric of a country. 
Therefore, any successful and sustainable resolution of such a conflict preferably includes all those affected by the conflict – including women, victims, various ethnic groups, civil society, business communities, religious leaders, grassroots and many other stakeholders. A successful peace building in Afghanistan requires Afghans shall reconcile their differences and build a future together, in the country where they must live side-by-side.
However, the promotion of inclusion in peace processes does not come without challenges. In most cases, the armed and governmental parties to a conflict do not see the value of having an inclusive process. This has various reasons, such as the fear of sharing power with an extended group of stakeholders. Or the conflict parties may view civil society and marginalized groups as part of their constituencies, and think that they are therefore already represented during negotiations.
Other reasons for exclusion can be history or culture. In many countries and cultures including Afghanistan, women, for example, have historically been excluded from the negotiating table and indeed many other social, political and economic spheres of life. 
The exclusion of Afghan women in peace processes will have serious repercussions for women’s rights post-conflict. In Afghanistan, where women’s rights remain precarious, the miscarriage to reliably address women’s opportunities and rights can reinforce gender injustice. Including women at the negotiating table and in consultations beyond the formal talks is a necessary step towards a lasting and legitimate peace in Afghanistan. In other words, Afghan women shall have a formal role in peace talks. The inclusion of women as victims of the war, gives the Afghan peace process its best chance of success. This is based on the argument that the inclusion of women and their meaningful participation in peace processes is central to having a gender perspective in peace processes. Furthermore, a peace process is more likely to be successful and lasting when a combination of modes of inclusion are introduced throughout the process to ensure that all stakeholders are represented on the negotiations table.
Finally, the need for a comprehensive and durable peace in Afghanistan requires creating a national and international consensus on the peace process with the Taliban. The Afghan government should reach a comprehensive agreement on peace talks with the Taliban inside Afghanistan, then with Afghanistan’s neighboring countries, regional and international powers.