Belquis Ahmadi
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Afghanistan Talks: No Women, No Peace

United States Institute of Peace

Abstract

Negotiations with the Taliban must include Afghan women to protect their progress and build a sustainable peace.

As talks between the U.S. and the Taliban raise hopes for peace in Afghanistan, the country’s women fear another—and related—possibility: That their hard-won rights to participate in the nation’s political and economic life could again be washed away by the Taliban’s rigid views on gender.

In theory, Afghan women, who have played a role in peace efforts since 2010, should have an insurance policy against exclusion from the talks and any power-sharing arrangement that results. In 2017, President Donald Trump signed the Women, Peace, and Security Act, which calls for the United States to be a global leader in promoting women’s participation in preventing, managing and resolving conflict. and in sustaining democratic institutions in fragile states. The law even requires training for Defense and State Department officials in how to further that goal.

That said, it’s far from clear—despite some of-the-moment rhetoric—that the Taliban has any intention of ensuring such a place for women in negotiations. It is also uncertain whether the United States, faced with the realities of trying to wind down the war, is in a position to do much about it, assuming the U.S. even has the will to try. This has left Afghan women fearing abandonment after years of posting extraordinary gains in every area of public life.