Afghanistan: Doha Peace Talks, Women Are Hopeful

The Taliban have indicated that they will allow women to be educated, work and participate in politics. However, a large question persists: will women be promoted to positions of power in institutions such as the judiciary or the executive?

After decades of unrest, last year the Taliban and Afghan government finally decided to come together and have peace talks. Though this is a welcome change appreciated by many world-over, there is still a gap that exists. The biggest concern regarding the peace talks in Afghanistan is the exclusion of women from the negotiations. These peace talks are crucial as they can either go a long way in advancing the women's rights movement in Afghanistan, or set back the progress made so far by years. Hence, it is incredibly important that the International Community continues to support women in Afghanistan.

Not all hope is lost. Gender Concerns International has been a witness to Afghan Peace Talks and has been supporting women and observing their participation.

In mid-September, the Afghanistan Mechanism for Inclusive Peace (AMIP) reaffirmed the direct impact of inclusion of women representatives in the ongoing negotiations between the government and the Taliban. Gender Concerns International honoured and congratulated Afghan women and women's organisation's on the achievement and considered this a forward-looking development towards a gender-inclusive final agreement.

A peace negotiator in Doha, Fawzia Koofi, said on Sunday that they remain hopeful that the disputed points on procedural rules of the talks are removed within the next few days to resume the meetings between delegates from both sides of the negotiations.

The peace negotiations were inaugurated in September 2020 with the hope of ending the four decades of war in the country. Negotiating teams representing the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban held more than 10 meetings in a small set up, called contact groups, to discuss procedural rules for the talks. The two sides have agreed on almost all articles of the ground rules for negotiations except two: religious basis for the talks and the connection of the US-Taliban deal with the talks in Doha.

Sources familiar with the process said the host of the talks, Qatar, and other countries supporting the Afghan peace process have expedited their efforts to remove the hurdles in the way of the direct negotiations between both sides.

“The draft is exchanged between the two sides. Some words are added. Some words are changed. We hope to solve this issue within the next few days,” Koofi said.

Sources said that Qatar’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Mutlaq al Qahtani, has held talks with negotiating teams of both sides in the last few days and has exchanged their views with both teams. Meanwhile, a Qatari lawmaker Hind al-Muftah al-Tamim said the peace negotiations are going in the right direction. But according to critics, the Taliban so far has not shown flexibility in their stance about the US-Taliban deal as a basis for the negotiations.