In October, the Washington Post reported that the Afghan government and the Taliban had begun secret peace agreement talks. Conditions included that the Taliban renounce violence, surrender their weapons and accept the constitution of Afghanistan.
However, women's rights advocates are worried. In an interview with the Toronto Star, Jennifer Rowell, head of policy and advocacy for Care International in Afghanistan, expressed her concerns that we are entering a very dangerous time for Afghan Women. Said Rowell, "The greatest concern is the policy of reconciliation and reintegration (of militants)...In the reconciliation process, women’s rights are a card on the table...I’m afraid they will be the first thing to be sacrificed in the negotiations.” She said Care has talked to thousands of Afghan women and they are also worried.
Ms. Rowell also said the future of Afghan women's rights will depend upon the response of Western countries to the peace talks.
Please sign the petition to Afghan President Hamid Karzai telling him that women's rights are not negotiable in discussions with the Taliban.
- H.E. President Hamid Karzai
I am writing to you to express my concern about the rumored peace talks between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban. While I would welcome peace and the end of this conflict, it must not be achieved by sacrificing the rights of the women and girls of Afghanistan.
Half of your people are female. They suffered most grievously under the Taliban, and must never again be condemned to such fates.
Several verses of the Quran teach us that men and women are spiritually equal before God, and your country's constitution mandates that the government provide education for women, that women make up 50 percent of the Meshrano Jirga and most importantly that citizens of Afghanistan--whether men or women--have equal rights under the law.
These rights cannot, and must not, be traded away to appease the Taliban.
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