On September 14, 2020, for the first time in history, Afghanistan secured a seat at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Afghanistan received the highest amount of votes and committed to promoting gender equality and women empowerment globally.
Adela Raz, Afghanistan’s representative to the UN, said that it is of “critical importance during peace talks to demonstrate new Afghanistan.” Sediq Sediqqi, the spokesperson of the Afghan President, also told Al Jazeera that winning a seat on the prestigious commission “means a lot to us.” Afghan women are not only reshaping the future of Afghanistan and their meaningful role but also will demonstrate their potential globally.”
Gaining a seat on the UNCSW is one of many achievements that Afghan women have made during the last two decades. Despite threats, harassment and attacks, Afghan women have made progress—from participating in presidential and provincial elections to winning a seat in parliament. Afghan women have worked hard and studied hard to hold better positions in social and political arenas.
As the talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban occur in Qatar, Afghan women are using every force to speak out to make sure that their rights and achievements won’t be traded away during these peace negotiations. Through campaigns and writing letters to the Taliban and world leaders, Afghan women expressed their concerns and demands. Over 100 world leaders signed a statement in support of Afghan women and their meaningful participation in intra-Afghan talks.
Afghan politician and women’s rights activist Fawzia Koofi is one of the four women (out of 21 on the Afghan government team) who are participating in these peace talks with the male-only Taliban side. Koofi told AFP, “The Taliban have to understand that they are facing a new Afghanistan with which they have to learn to live.”
Koofi, who also attended unofficial talks with the Taliban in 2019, spoke about difficulties that female negotiators face: “It’s not just about what you are talking; people look at what you wear, whether your scarf is of the right size or not.”
Koofi survived an assassination attempt last month in Kabul. During their six-year rule from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban limited women’s rights by banning women’s access to education, hospitals, and employment. Last year, a Taliban official told Al Jazeera that the group would strike a “moderate tone” on women’s issues.
But for Afghan women, it is very difficult to trust the Taliban because women don’t know what the Taliban mean by their “moderate tone” or imposing of Sharia law.