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‘Afghan women’s presence in peace talks insisted’

AT Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The US Congress has asked the US State Department to include Afghan women in the ongoing peace process and make sure their voices are heard during the negotiations with the Taliban. 

In a letter signed by dozens of Congress members, they have asked the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to make sure the achievements of the Afghan women in the past 18 years should be protected. 

A copy of the letter has been sent to the US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, TOLONews reported.

In part of the letter, the US lawmakers said the Afghan women were excluded from the peace talks during the February and May peace negotiations between the US negotiators and the Taliban members in Doha.

“Yet during the February and May talks in Doha between American diplomates and the Taliban, Afghan women were not represented. Afghan women voices need to be heard – not just on women’s rights, but on the future of their country. We urge the State Department to protect Afghan women’s negotiation position and hard-won gains in all discussions with the Taliban,” the letter reads. 

US lawmakers quoting the US Institute of Peace have said more than 68,000 Afghan women are employed in schools and universities, at least 10,000 Afghan women are doctors and healthcare professionals, and Afghan women entrepreneurs have created roughly 77,000 jobs for Afghans which are big gains that must be preserved. 

“If you are not sitting around the table, you cannot remain in the government. Those who gather around the table, they make peace with each other; peace on their thoughts and peace on their different point of views. If you are not on the table, it means having a different point of view or having a shared point is not important,” said Farkhunda Zahra Naderi, a women’s rights activist and a former advisor to President Ashraf Ghani. 

“Afghan women have also called for their voices to be heard and today that the US Congress members have sent the letter. It is a positive step and it means that they completely support women’s participation,” said Shinkai Karokhail, an MP. 

Siahmoi, a Kabul resident, said women should play an equal role in society.

The US lawmakers in the letter have said the Afghan women and girls achieved their rights in the past 18 years and that this should not be sacrificed. 

The Afghan women also repeatedly have called for their active and meaningful role in the peace talks and for their gains to be preserved. In response to the calls, Khalilzad has also said that women’s rights and achievements will be protected.

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