Firts time ever! Afghan women negotiate with hardliner Taliban; Talk against oppression

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Updated: Sep 17, 2020 2:13 PM

There are four tough women from that country who dared to face the hardliner Taliban across the table during peace talks.

Afghan women, Taliban, Doha, Afghan government, Fawzia Koofi, Kabul, Afghan Red Cross, Mujahideen, KabulThere are four tough women from that country who dared to face the hardliner Taliban across the table during peace talks. (Photo source: IE)

For the first-time Afghan women were represented in the peace talks that took place in Doha recently. The women who had been facing the oppressive rule of the Taliban and fought for gains joined an all-male Afghan government’s team of 17 and team of the Taliban with only men.

Who are these women?

There are four tough women from that country who dared to face the hardliner Taliban across the table during peace talks.

Negotiator Fawzia Koofi is a politician and high-profile women’s rights campaigner. In her country, she has survived at least two assassination attempts during her career. The latest was in August recently in Kabul.

During the rule of Taliban from 1996-2001, while she was threatened with stoning for wearing nail polish, her husband was jailed, she has told the media before she left for talks.

The Taliban had banned girls from going to schools and women to work and the women used to be whipped lashed in case found guilty of adultery. Things have improved considerably for women in rural areas since the US-led forces toppled the Taliban. And the big cities like Kabul have witnessed huge progress. Women are getting an education at a secondary and high level as well some are now holding elected positions and running businesses.

Ms Koofi is one of the few women who held unofficial talks with the Taliban in 2019 and she knows and fully aware of the issues the female negotiators face.

Another negotiator in the team is an Islamic law expert Fatima Gailani, 66, the former spokeswoman for the Mujahideen against the Soviets in the 1980s and also the former president of the Afghan Red Cross. She has expressed her apprehension about negotiations with the Taliban. Though she has support of the male negotiators in her team, she says “The women always have fear whenever there are changes in her country.”

Though Taliban claims that women’s rights will be protected through Islamic values, Ms Gailani stated that the talks should be focused on common values.

Habiba Sarabi, another lady member of the team too has her apprehensions and wants to see Afghanistan as a `Republic’ and not Taliban run state. She was barred from working under the Taliban rule and had to flee the country to pursue her passion for teaching.

When she returned to Afghanistan, at 62 years she became her country’s first female provincial governor and has also served as a minister twice.

A former broadcaster and local politician in the eastern province of Paktia, Sharifa Zurmati, is also part of the team.

What are these talks?

This year in February, the US signed a deal with the Taliban in which they agreed to withdraw forces in return for an assurance from the insurgents to hold talks with the Afghan government, which is aimed at ending the war.

Amidst a lot of delays, direct talks finally opened in the Qatari capital Doha on Saturday.

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