Human Rights Watch has demanded the new Afghan government ensure meaningful representation of women in future peace talks with the Taliban.
The New York-based group said recent Afghan government statements indicate efforts to restart peace negotiations, but provide no clarity on government plans to ensure increased representation of women in all decision-making and mechanisms regarding conflict resolution outlined in relevant U.N. Security resolutions.
In a written statement Sunday, HRW’s senior women’s rights researcher, Heather Barr, said if the peace process moves forward, all parties in Afghanistan should include female negotiators to protect human rights, especially women’s rights.
Referring to past efforts at peace negotiations, HRW said Afghan women’s rights activists have repeatedly spoken out about their fears the government will trade away women’s rights in an effort to reach an accommodation with the Taliban.
“President (Ashraf) Ghani has an opportunity to pursue peace negotiations in a manner that will reassure all Afghans that their human rights concerns will be taken into account,” Barr said, adding, "Afghanistan's donors should press him to do so.”
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, when contacted by VOA for comments on the HRW demand, said the Islamist group had "nothing to say" on the issue.
When the Taliban was in power in Afghanistan, it imposed a strict version of Islamic law in the country that barred girls from seeking education and women from working outside their homes.
An Oxfam study in 2014 found there had been 23 rounds of peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban since 2005, but one woman from the government was present on two occasions.