Most CSOs activists argue that maintaining the republic system must be preserved as it can best guarantee human rights, especially those of women. Talking to CSHRN, Rahmatullah Shariati, a civil society activist, and University Lecturer said that the republic system, as a safe platform, can ensure women’s constitutional rights.

CSHRN: What is your assessment of the peace talks so far?

Shariati: Lack of agreement on a joint agenda for peace negotiation is a serious concern. Despite the goodwill of the Afghan negotiating team, the Taliban are not acting in good faith that undermines the process.

CSHRN: What will be the possible results of the talks, given the Taliban’s history and views of women?

Shariati: Despite the prevalence of democracy in the last two decades, the Taliban still pose serious threats to women’s rights. In the case of a power-sharing agreement, women’s rights and their political participation will be challenged by the Taliban as the group is opposed to the democratic environment.

CSHRN: How will women’s presence affect the Taliban’s views?

Shariati: Their presence is effective, but their participation in a quota system is very low. Although the male participants in the team also support women’s rights; however, it is important for women to represent themselves. The Taliban men, who are present on the battleground are more dangerous to women than their negotiators. Women’s active and broad engagement in the peace talks will also draw international attention to Afghan women.

CSHRN: Would it be acceptable if more restrictions are imposed as the result of the peace talks?

Shariati: If both parties are equally determined in establishing a ceasefire and restoring peace, they should retreat from their maximalist positions. For example, restricting women’s education is never acceptable; however, separate education would be an alternative, provided that peace is restored. Otherwise, it would not be worth risking our democratic values. 

CSHRN: Along with the security issues, what else is hindering women’s progress?

Shariati: Old-fashioned traditional values are the main obstacle on the way to women’s progress. Unlike many democratic societies in which women and men enjoy equal rights, Afghanistan is reeling from injustice and inequality. In addition, the high rate of illiteracy also does prevent women to actualize their dreams.

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