“No one has suffered more at the hands of the Taliban than the women of Afghanistan,” Melanne Verveer—executive director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and a former U.S. ambassador for Global Women’s Issues—explains in a new op-ed in USA Today.
That declaration is at the crux of Verveer’s argument, published in the midst of so-called “peace talks” between the U.S. government and the militant group, that “lasting peace is impossible” without women’s voices:
News of negotiations between the United States and the Taliban and the prospect of impending intra-Afghan talks have given hope to the Afghan people that years of war and unspeakable suffering may finally be coming to an end. Americans, too, are war-weary and want to see an end to what has become America’s longest war.
The talks with the Taliban, and the decision by the Trump administration to maintain a presence of just 8,600 troops, however, have also sparked enormous fear among Afghans—especially among Afghan women.
Although arguably the strongest advocates for peace, they worry that an agreement reached with the Taliban—without women’s participation in the negotiations—could put their hard-won gains on the chopping block. After all, it was the Taliban, who during their regime, imposed rules on Afghan women and girls based on their misguided extremist interpretations of Islam that deprived them of their rights—including the right to go to school and to work—and justified violence against them.