Online Discussion on Peace Talks and Afghan Women’s Rights

Posted on: 07-10-2020

On Wednesday, October 7, 2020, the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies-AISS and Radio Nowruz organized and broadcasted an online discussion on "Peace Talks and Afghan Women’s Rights". The program addressed the concerns of Afghan women and how to protect women's rights in the country after reaching an agreement with the Taliban. The program coordinator was Dr. Aziz Barez, former Afghan diplomat and analyst currently based in the UK. 

This event featured by a panel discussion with Naheed Farid, chair of the human rights, civil society and women's affairs commission of the Lower House; Anneliese Dodds, Oxford MP Shadow chancellor; Shaharzad Akbar, chairperson for Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission; Bailie Anne McTaggart, former Member of the Scottish Parliament; Aryana Sayeed, singer, songwriter and Human/Women Rights Activist; and Alison Davidian, Deputy Country Representative Artificial Intelligence (AI), UN Women Afghanistan.

Shahrzad Akbar stated that the Afghan peace process belongs to all Afghan women and girls, and there are concerning issues that should be discussed at the negotiating table. Regarding the Afghan peace talks, she said that the negotiators should take into account the transparency of the process, and that both sides should work on a mechanism that strengthens the civil society.

Bailie Anne McTaggart said that women should play an important role in the peace process, as women are the other half of society. Women can bring families and communities together in order to maintain a lasting peace in a society. Besides, women have great potentials for advancing peace talks, and efforts should be made to use from their capabilities at the negotiating table.

Aryana Sayeed stated that women have much progressed over the past few years and that the Taliban are no longer able to suppress them as they did in the past. Now is time for all women to work together to protect the achievements of the last two decades. Also, she added that the Taliban's interpretation of Islam is very strict and deviant; however, as in Saudi Arabia, women are not derived of their rights and are active part media and entertainment.

Nahid Farid said that Afghanistan is at an important juncture in its history, and the Taliban cannot ignore the contemporary realities of Afghanistan. She said that women should defend their status in the Afghan peace talks. Freedom of expression, human rights, minority rights, and some other issues are among the most important things to be considered at the negotiating table. Furthermore, she mentioned that the political agreement would not be a lasting settlement if it comes with the cost of losing our democracy and women’ s rights.

Alison Davidian said that a possible Afghan peace deal should break the taboo and include Afghan women's rights. She stated that the UN Women are working to build a community of civil society and women's rights activists in the process. She further stated that not only in the peace talks, but the issue of women's rights should also be raised at the Geneva World Summit. If the Taliban are to be part of the government in the future, they must accept the international standards and respect women's rights.