A number of women's rights and civil society activists have admonished leaders of awaited peace talks with the Taliban, urging them to move forward with transparency, clarity and commitment to not trading the achievements of the past thirteen years for peace.
The activists have claimed that, despite major threats and intimidations, 36 percent of Afghan women came out and cast their ballots during the 2014 presidential election. They argue that now women and civil society institutions should be able to play a role in decision-making when it comes issues of national interest.
"We strongly support the restoration of peace in the country, but for this purpose, we should have a complete understanding of our opposing side, to whom we are going to talk, and find out what they want from us in exchange for peace," Civil Society Network member Mahbooba Saraj said. "I think, if women's role is not considered in the talks, this will indicate that there is no peace talks and we only rely on a ceasefire with the opponents."
Many women's advocates have contended that the previous government, under former president Hamid Karzai, failed to take adequate action to bolster the rights of women in Afghanistan. "You are aware that the moves for peace in the previous government were contradictory to the demands of women," MP Fatima Azizi said. "Therefore, people do not have good memories; the national unity government should precisely support women's role in society in the peace talks."
The comments come at a time that the national unity government has paid lip service to the enhancement of women's role in the country, but without yet taking concerted action to contribute concretely to the advancement of that role.