KABUL (SW) – Since the fall of the Taliban regime, Afghan women have been living in a relatively free environment with liberties to study and work.
When the brutal regime of the Taliban is recalled, it brings back memories of persecution and curbs particularly on women in this regard. Now, with the chatter about a possible return of the Taliban filling the air, the troubling memories of the past are haunting many.
However, Mirwais Balkhi, interim-minister for the Ministry of Education, told Salam Watandar in an exclusive interview that safeguarding citizen’s right to education remains top on the agenda in the proposed peace talks. Balkhi is part of the government delegation nominated by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani.
He categorically said a peace agreement cannot be reached if the demand for depriving women and girls from these rights was made by the Taliban.
Women rights activists remain skeptical about the future amid ambiguity surrounding this issue.
Zarqa Yaftali, head of the Women and Children Research Organization, argued that Afghan women have suffered a lot, and not allowing them a say about their future amounts to grim violation of their rights. She stressed women hope their rights and the gains of the past 17 years are not sacrificed in these talks.
A wide range of women and girls working in the public and private sector told SW they demand the issues surrounding their rights - particularly the rights to education and work – should be guaranteed in the peace talks.
Nabeela Musleh, deputy minister for the Ministry of Women Affairs, said though the entire nation longs for peace, but the peace can only prove sustainable if it is based on justice and equality for all.
Female students are particular weary about the return of the Taliban.
Faheema Sultani and Muqadasa Gowhari, two such students, said they have heard evil things about the Taliban regime, and are frightened by the terrorist attacks carried out by the Taliban. Both of them said they would dearly want to complete their studies, get a decent job and share the economic burden of their families.
Though, the government has also nominated two women for the official delegation to hold talks with the Taliban, but so far the Taliban are no willing to talk to this team.
In the Moscow conference for peace, the Taliban said they are determined to grant women their rights.