Just under two weeks ago, a U.N.-brokered agreement between the repressive Taliban regime and its northern opponents promised a forthcoming cease fire and efforts to form a joint government. Since then, fighting has resumed, although both sides still claim that they want a cease fire. Neither side raised the issue of women’s representation in future elections or gave any indication that Afghan women’s rights will improve under the agreement.
Since the extremist Taliban militia seized the capital city of Kabul in September 1996, the Taliban has issued a series of decrees restricting the rights of Afghan women and girls. Under the Taliban, most women are banned from working, from attending school, or from moving about freely. Women must wear a head-to-toe covering and must be chaperoned by a close male relative when leaving their homes.
Leaders of the Taliban’s northern opposition share many of the Taliban’s views on women and are vehemently opposed to allowing women the right to vote.