In an open letter to global women leaders, a coalition of Afghan women from across the country has asked to “stand by their side to protect women’s rights” in Afghanistan. The letter is addressed to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Ann Wagner, Ambassador Kelly Craft, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, and the Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg.
In the letter, Afghan women have shared their concerns and worries about why they fear the loss of their rights once again. In one part, the letter reads, “Unlike other peace processes where the issue is about past injustice, this peace process also threatens to enact policies bringing about future injustices against women.”
Afghan women rightly fear that the Afghan negotiations process includes a group, the Taliban, which took all rights from them. In the letter, they write, “There are many simple things that women take for granted in your countries. These range from more serious matters such as having the right to earn a livelihood and provide for their family to every day little acts like leaving their house without fear of reprisal, taking a stroll in the park, and laughing with a friend in public. However, these are some of the basic things we fear we will lose again.”
Afghan women believe that the Taliban has not evolved in their views of treating women and are saying to these global leaders, “We cannot take a chance to lose what we have achieved with your help.” The Taliban continue to oppress women in parts of the country they still rule. They have also made statements that they will give rights to women only within the bounds of Shari’a law. Many Afghans, especially women, believe that their interpretation of Shari’a law is in complete contrast to what is being practiced in many of the Islamic countries. Women in most of the Islamic world enjoy many rights that the Taliban had taken away from Afghan women when they ruled.
Afghan women are well aware that the fight for women’s equality is alive across the world and that “it is a long way to achieve full equality for women anywhere and it is even harder to achieve that in Afghanistan but we, the [Afghan] women, cannot allow it to go back.” They are asking these leaders to stand “with us,” but also are also, “We will continue our struggle as it is a matter of life and death to us but with this letter, we want you to hear our voices too that we must matter.”