Almost 3200 delegates gathered in Kabul from across Afghanistan this week to discuss peace in Afghanistan; nearly 30% of the participants in the grand assembly meeting were women. Women headed 13 committees of the total 51 committees and 28 were elected as committee secretaries.

Despite some opposition and pushback from some conservative men, women continued to raise their voices and concerns about the prospects of peace talks with the Taliban. Women called on the Taliban to end the suffering of the Afghan people because of their ongoing war. Some men objected to the role of women in the peace talks, calling on the women to stay at home where they “should be in the kitchen cooking.”

The grand consultative assembly, known as Loya Jirga in Afghanistan, was convened by President Ashraf Ghani to debate Afghanistan’s path to peace. Such gatherings have a long history in Afghanistan, often called for general consensus building. The meeting began on Monday and ended on Thursday with a 23 Article resolution. The resolution strongly calls for the end of war, an immediate ceasefire, and respecting human rights, including women’s rights. In a goodwill gesture, the President of Afghanistan announced that his government will release 175 Taliban prisoners and is ready for a ceasefire with the group. President Ashraf Ghani has previously offered ceasefire with the Taliban as well. The Taliban, however, has rejected calls for a ceasefire.

Afghan women remain concerned about the peace talks between the U.S. and the Taliban. Afghan women fear that their hard fought and hard won rights will be compromised if they are not present at the table. They fear that the deal with the militant group could bring them back to power and will strip away rights and freedoms gained in the last 18 years, since the militant group was removed from power. The Afghan government has not been invited to the so-called peace talks either. The U.S. is negotiating its troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan and is asking for guarantees from the Taliban that they will not provide safe havens for terrorist groups in Afghanistan again.

Take action to support Afghan women’s demands for inclusion in the peace talks.

Media Sources: BBC 5/3/19; Tolo News 4/29/19; Grand Hara 5/2/19

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