Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, January 25th, 2021

Compromising Women’s Rights at Peace Table Not Acceptable

Afghan women have called for protection of their rights and gains achieved within the last two decades. Women were particularly concerned about their rights and liberties since the talks began between the United States and the Taliban as well as the start of ongoing talks in the Qatari capital of Doha. In the post-Taliban Afghanistan, women’s rights were a legal and political discourse and the representatives of people approved the constitution in a Loya Jirga to put an end to sexual discrimination, which has no room in Islamic tenets according to prominent Afghan clerics, who participated in the Jirga.
Generally, women’s rights were a highly controversial issue in the post-Taliban administration and there were multiple attitudes towards the rights and freedoms of women. In Afghanistan’s politically traditional and patriarchal structure, a number of Afghans showed sensitivity towards modern women’s rights discourse. A number of men bullied their wives not to show tendency towards women’s discourse or disagree with the decision of their husbands as a result of ongoing debates about women’s rights, which were viewed as western product. 
Meanwhile, the equal rights of men and women made no sense for religious fundamentalists, including the Taliban militants. The Taliban group continued targeting women and restricting their freedoms in areas under its control. It violated women’s rights to a great extent and tried to assassinate female political figures. They closed girls’ schools and trampled upon their rights to education. The Taliban militants also punished women in desert courts. In short, religious radicals fought against the narrative of equal rights for men and women and sought to impose their warped mind on people in remote villages and tribal belts.
Amidst the ongoing talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, women are still concerned regarding their rights and liberties. They fear that the Taliban will restrict their freedoms as well as their social, political and economic activities. With this in mind, women call for protection of two-decade achievements, mainly the strides made about their rights and liberties in the wake of heavy sacrifices paid by both genders. Women said in a resolution, issued after a national campaign titled “Voice of Afghan Women in Defense of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan”, “We, the Afghan women consider the preservation of the country’s constitution as a national obligation, in order to guarantee our civil and political rights in peace talks.” The resolution also called on clerics to work for the promotion of peace culture, protection of national and religious values and identities so as to strengthen national unity.
Afghan women have to be concerned about their rights and freedoms and work for their preservation. The Taliban have not proved their sincere intention to respect and protect women’s rights. They simply say that women’s rights will be protected in the frame of “Islamic Sharia”, which is ambiguous and believed to be on the basis of the Taliban’s interpretation.
It should be noted that haggling over the protection of women’s rights and deeming it a red-line will not simply belong to female representatives in Qatar. Each member of the negotiating team has to persist on this matter and the team has to present a united front in all issues.
It is self-explanatory that the Taliban inflicted untold sorrow and indescribable pain and sufferings upon Afghan women. They treated women as pariahs and their radical ideology and misogynistic views could not tolerate women’s presence in social, political, or economic spheres. Women bore the brunt of violence during the Taliban’s regime.
However, those practices are not more tolerable for Afghan men or women since Afghanistan’s social and political face has been totally changed than that of two-decades ago. Women will no more backtrack and persisting on radical ideology vis-à-vis women’s rights will be counterproductive.
Generally speaking, women made great strides in the post-Taliban Afghanistan. Notwithstanding the challenges Afghan women encounter on daily basis, women also hold high political positions. That is, Afghan women are widely engaged in social, political, and economic activities without any serious challenge. They serve as MP, judge, minister, adviser, ambassador, etc.
To view Afghan Constitution, both men and women have equal rights and freedoms. Women are supported legally to participate in all social, political, and economic activities and could run for presidential election regardless of their gender. In short, there is no legal barrier before Afghan women to take part in social activities similar to their male counterparts. Thus, protection of Afghan Constitution should be a red-line for the government’s negotiating team, supported by the people.