Afghan delegations representing the Northern Alliance, former king Zahir Shah, the Peshawar Convention, and the Cyprus group, will meet next week in Berlin to discuss the future of Afghanistan, including the development of a new broad-based representative government. Among the delegations, will be Afghan women. The former king, declaring “Women have always played an important part in Afghan Society,” has already invited at least one woman to go to Berlin as part of his delegation. Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations’ Special Representative for Afghanistan has encouraged all of the delegations to include women, but each group will determine their actual representatives.
Brahimi also expressed the United Nations’ “hope that [the meeting] will be the beginning we’ve been looking for to end the conflict in Afghanistan and start building new institutions in the country.” To build these institutions, according to UN Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women Angela King, women must be “full partners in the decision-making process around the peace table, in humanitarian efforts, and in reconstruction of the country.” The inclusion of women in the Berlin talks is a promising step in that direction.