Kabul urged to include women in peace talks

Kabul, Jan 5 (IANS) The Afghan government should include female negotiators in the upcoming multistate meeting on the Afghan peace process, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday.

Representatives of Afghanistan, Pakistan, the US and China are scheduled to meet on January 11 in Islamabad to revive peace negotiations that stalled in July after disclosure of the death of the Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

“Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s promises to include women in peace talks have so far amounted to nothing,” said Heather Barr, senior women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“The January 11 meeting is a key opportunity for him to show that his government is genuinely committed to women’s full participation in future talks.”

Afghan women’s rights activists have for years raised concerns that the government will trade away women’s rights in an effort to reach an accommodation with the Taliban.

These fears have been exacerbated by the routine exclusion of women from the process.

A 2014 study by Oxfam found that in 23 rounds of informal peace talks involving the Afghan government and the Taliban between 2005 and 2014, women were present on only two occasions. No women were ever included in discussions between international negotiators and the Taliban.

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