At a UN meeting on the recent deal between the U.S. and the Taliban about the role of Afghan women’s rights today in New York, Secretary Hillary Clinton emphasized that “encouraging women’s participation is not only the right thing to do; it is the strategic and necessary thing to do for peace, prosperity and security.”
In her speech at the UN, sponsored by the Group of Friends of Women in Afghanistan and led by the Afghanistan Mission to the UN, she stated that Afghans from all walks of life have made it clear that they want peace and an end to violence and casualties. “Yet it is difficult to have an agreement when you leave out the government of the country that you are expecting to uphold it and live under that agreement. And it is difficult to sustain an agreement if you leave out half the population in forging it,” stated Clinton.
In the meeting, many other prominent members of the group along with Afghan women leaders spoke of the achievements of the Afghan women in the last 18 years as well as the dangers of losing their rights once again. In her remarks, Nargis Nehan, an Afghan advocate for women’s rights reminded the audience, “Please don’t look at Afghanistan as a failed project. It has been difficult because of the many complexities, but it is not failed. Much has been achieved in education, maternal mortality, women’s leadership and role in society.”
Orzala Nemat also reminded everyone that “inclusivity” does not mean only the representation of women in the peace process, but that there are Afghan women experts in every field, civil society, economics, developments, etc. “Afghan women must be in every field,” emphasized Nemat.
As the former secretary of state, Clinton said that she knows how difficult this negotiation must have been because from the very beginning the Taliban rejected to talk to the Afghan government but that, “we must simply not accede to those wishes, leaving the Afghan government on the hook.”
Secretary Clinton advocated for Afghan women’s rights as a First Lady and then as a Senator and Secretary of State. She recognizes the plights of Afghan women and the progress they have achieved. “It is clear that Afghan women are rightly afraid not just for their rights and the Constitution that was written to protect them,” she said, “but literally afraid that the gains they have made with all of our help will be washed away in a rush to achieve a peace that will not hold anyway. This is not just morally wrong. This is dangerous.”
As a strong supporter of women’s human rights, she told that audience that, “We must not allow a reign of terror against [Afghan] women and girls. The women of Afghanistan have come too far to be excluded from the negotiation table while their rights are being stripped away. It is also true that we cannot allow that to happen to Afghan women and girls because there is a direct correlation between what will happen in the country, in the region, and indeed the world because of that.
The Group of Friends of Women Afghanistan was created by the Afghanistan Mission at the UN last year to emphasize the importance of women’s rights and underscore that women’s protection and empowerment are critical pillars of a just and fair society. The Group is working to ensure that the UN resolution 1325 on Women Peace and Security will be implemented throughout the negotiations process in Afghanistan.