Some social activists believe that there should be a guarantee of women’s fundamental rights protection in the peace agreement. Otherwise, the agreement would not have validity.
In an interview by CSHRN, Mr. Farwak said that protection of women’s rights must be highly considered; negligence of it will jeopardize success in the implementation of the peace agreement. Due to systematic injustice waged on Afghan women throughout the history of Afghanistan, it is worth mentioning that there should be guarantees of women’s rights protection in the peace agreement. Their rights to education, work, and political participation are the main issues or concerns.
CSHRN: What is your assessment of the peace talks so far?
Farwak: Prospects of peace negotiations depend on three factors: the US election, the influence of engaged regional powers in ongoing chaos in Afghanistan, and the interest issues of the Afghan government and Taliban. Firstly, the US election highly overshadowed the peace negotiations. It caused to stop the peace talks for a while and the Afghan negotiators returned to Afghanistan. Secondly, throughout the peace process, we have witnessed the escalation of conflict and the rise of terror and violence caused by regional powers in pursuit of their own interests. Finally, the negotiating parties are pursuing their own interests instead of finding a solution for ongoing chaos.
CSHRN: Given the history of Taliban, especially with regards to women, what consequences will the peace talks have on the social and political presence of women?
Farwak: Considering the Afghan women’s vision of peace talks, they perceive it with two different insights. The Afghan women whose family members are foot soldiers whether in government military forces or are fighting for Taliban are hoping the end of the conflict as soon as possible. They wish reunion of their family members when they are concerned regarding the lives of their sons and husbands. However, those Afghan women who are educated are concerned mostly about their fundamental rights. They aim to preserve their freedoms. They have the potential of contributing to the development of the country and prosperity of the society. Hence, each group has a different vision of peace talks. The first group might be optimistic about the consequences of a peace agreement; however, the second group is pessimistic about taking their rights and freedoms into consideration.
CSHRN: How can the peace talks impact the Taliban view of women?
Farwak: The female members of the negotiating team of the government have successful backgrounds that indicate their capability of impacting the Taliban’s view of women. They have worked in high profile governmental positions represented ethnic minorities in the country. They have a clear understanding of the current situation of the country. And importantly, they are committed to defending women’s rights and have the capacity to convince Taliban on the topic.
CSHRN: Do the female members of the government negotiating team have the capacity of representing Afghan women and defend their rights?
Farwark: Though the female negotiating members of the government are a minority, they are capable of decently representing Afghan women. The number of negotiating members does not affect the outcome of negotiations; however, the capacity, skills, and expertness precisely propel the team toward a determined destination. The female negotiating members seem to be committed to defending Afghan women’s rights. Alongside them, the male negotiating members are proponents of women’s rights as well. Therefore, undoubtedly, the government’s negotiating team will pursue a common agenda of defending the fundamental rights of women.
CSHRN: In your point of view, will restrictions on women’s rights be backed by social acceptance in society?
Farwak: Peace agreement should not restrict women’s rights. Conversely, it should provide a conducive environment of promotion and growth. A large number of students graduated from schools, universities, and educational institutions over the past two decades. They constitute a new generation of Afghanistan that grew in a relatively democratic environment. They would not leave behind what they have achieved yet. Taliban set in the negotiation table with the government’s team; however, they should deal with this new generation as well when they are tenacious to their achievements.
CSHRN: What are other challenges hampering women’s progress?
Farwak: Illiteracy and poverty are the two main challenges women are facing. The Afghan government must develop strategic plans to combat illiteracy. Also, effective programs must be developed in order to create employment opportunities. When women become literate, they will have a chance of finding a decent job as an independent source of income that will make them capable of solving their issues.
CSHRN: What do you think of the Taliban’s presence effects on civic activities upon their share in the government’s structure?
Farwak: My assumption is that the post-peace system of Afghanistan will remain democratic and Afghan civil society will be more dynamic than ever. A dynamic civil society in every country has experienced a transition from a violent past to a peaceful condition. In democratic countries, civil societies act independently. The independence of civil society, freedom of speech, and freedom of association should be ensured in the post-peace agreement government.
CSHRN: In your point of view, what will guarantee that Taliban will abide by their commitments in the peace agreement?
Farwak: An executive guarantee is one of the most crucial aspects of any negotiation process. Both the government and the Taliban are aware of this fact and will consider it as part of the peace agenda.
According to Mr. Farwak, the outcome of the peace process should provide educational, civic-political, and employment opportunities for women. He hoped that even the family members of Taliban receive standard education and job opportunities in the post-peace society.