In a series of high-profile meetings on the current situation in Afghanistan, as well as the ongoing so-called peace process, Afghan women were noticeably missing. Soon after the news of these meetings, Afghan women were quick to criticize the Afghan government for not including women in such high-profile meetings. These meetings included the signing of a power-sharing agreement between President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, U.S. Special Envoy, Zalmai Khalilzad’s meeting with President Ghani and other leaders, and President Ghani and Abdullah’s meeting with other political leaders on the current situation in the country.
In an interview with Tolonews, Nilofar Ibrahimi, a Member of Parliament said, “Unfortunately, Afghan politicians are afraid of women’s sincerity, empathy and ability. They are talking about development in the country but they are ignoring the role of half of the society, who are women.”
Afghan women’s criticism comes at a time when there are five women on the peace negotiating team representing the Afghan government and the Afghan people. These meetings included talks about the peace process too. Yet, none of those women have been present in these meetings.
Manizah Ramezi, a lecture at Kabul University shared her concerns on the lack of the presence of women in these meetings and said, “This issue, from one view point, indicates that the Afghan government could be telling the Taliban that we have sidelined women’s role for now.”
Shaharzad Akbar, Chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission also criticized the move and tweeted, “It means that only men’s views are important on national and political matters in the current situation of the country.” She asked, “Where are the women?”
Spokesperson to Mr. Ghani defended the administration’s work on the empowerment of women and said they will remain “firm” on their work to improving the status of women. However, Afghan women have been clear that the little they have achieved in political participation is being endangered.
Afghan women leaders from across the country have been fighting for their rights and their inclusion in the peace process, as well as their role in deciding the direction of their country’s future. Their criticism is not limited to just this issue. These women have been raising their voices for their rights in Afghanistan and globally. They have been clear that they are worried that the little progress that the Afghan women have achieved will be lost.
Sources: Tolonews 5/22/20; Twitter 5/22/20