Female MPs, Taliban talk women’s rights in Oslo

Create: 06/03/2015 - 10:33

KABUL (Pajhwok): In a propitious development on June 3-4, 2015 Afghanistan’s female lawmakers met the Taliban in Oslo on the issue of women’s rights as part of a Norwegian-sponsored initiative. Billed as preliminary and unofficial, the meetings come after similar talks in Doha in late May.
Norwegian Foreign Ministry spokesman Frode Anderson told journalists in Oslo the Taliban had held informal discussions with representatives of Afghan society.Apart from two outspoken women legislators, female members of the High Peace Council also attended the exploratory meetings that concluded on Friday.
Zabihullah Mujahid, speaking on behalf of the militant group, confirmed the two-day meeting, which was aimed at sharing of views on different issues. The High Peace Council also verified the dialogue on securing women’s rights.
The contact enabled the MPs and rights activists to have face-to-face discussions with representatives of the Taliban movement that barred women and girls from education and work during its five-year rule from 1996 to 2001.
Around 10 outspoken women, including five MPs and noted rights advocates, participated in the talks,indicating the Taliban’swillingness to rethink their stance on women’s rights. Similarly, the women MPs had a chance to express their concerns about the future of their constitutionally-guaranteed protections.
Fawzia Kofi, Shukria Barakzai, Gulalai Noor Sapi, Hawa Alam Nuristani andHabiba Sarabi and three other legislators attendedthe discussions as independent representatives of the parliament, not the government. Three female members of the High Peace Council also attended.
Shahabuddin, Shaheen and Abbas Stanikzai represented the Taliban at the unofficial talks. The Oslo discourse came days after President Ghani ruled out any rollback of the constitutional protections for the Afghan women.
A month earlier, meetings in Qatar indicated a softening of the Taliban’s stance on the hard-won freedoms women are enjoying in modern-day Afghanistan. However, formal negotiations are still years away, with each side currently fighting for supremacy on the battlefield.