Women in Afghanistan will prevail even as the Taliban return: Veteran activist

10/9/2021 6:06:00 PM

Women in Afghanistan will prevail even as the Taliban return: Veteran activist

Women in Afghanistan will prevail even as the Taliban return: Veteran activist

SINGAPORE: Veteran Afghan women’s rights activist Fatima Gailani, the most senior female negotiator in the failed Afghan-Taliban peace talks, remains headstrong and hopeful that women will be allowed to participate in public life in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. Even as reports surface that Taliban fighters

Michelle Bachelet has also voiced concern at reports of grave abuses, including summary executions, by the Taliban.The pair were picked up at a demonstration on Wednesday and taken to a police station in the capital, where they say they were punched and beaten with batons, electrical cables and whips after being accused of organising the protest.Taliban fighters for covering a protest in the Afghan capital.LinkedIn GENEVA: The UN rights office on Friday (Sep 10) said that the Taliban response to peaceful marches in Afghanistan has been increasingly violent, with authorities using live ammunition, batons and whips and causing the deaths of at least four protesters.

While Gailani appreciated the situational nuances of Taliban-rule, she stood firm on her advocacy for women rights.“Should we lower our expectation? Absolutely not.They kicked me in the head.” “Women of Afghanistan are strong.They kicked me in the head.They will prevail,” asserted Gailani..Since the Taliban seized power, female protesters have been out in the streets in major cities across Afghanistan, raising their voices to preserve the gains made in women rights over the past two decades.Journalists covering the protests have also been intimidated.

Related: 'Times have changed': Some Afghan women defiant as Taliban return The Taliban have since outlawed protests.Despite promises of a more inclusive regime, the Taliban have moved to snuff out mushrooming opposition against their rule.I thought they were going to kill me," photographer Nematullah Naqdi told AFP.Gailani, 68, is the most senior of the four female negotiators from the now-collapsed Afghan government in failed peace talks with the Taliban.In February 2020, the United States, under the Trump administration, signed a peace deal with the Taliban which called for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.Naqdi and his colleague Taqi Daryabi, a reporter, who both work for Etilaat Roz (Information Daily) had been assigned to cover a small protest in front of a police station in Kabul by women demanding the right to work and education.This US-Taliban peace deal excluded the then-Afghan government.Naqdi and his colleague Taqi Daryabi, a reporter, who both work for Etilaat Roz (Information Daily) had been assigned to cover a small protest in front of a police station in Kabul by women demanding the right to work and education.When asked if the Taliban have ever rejected her position at the negotiating table, Gailani revealed that all four of the female Afghan peace negotiators were “dealt with great respect” by the Taliban."They told me 'You cannot film'," he said.

“They were answering our questions and addressing us, exactly equal to all our male colleagues.” Gailani said she needs to take an optimistic view and is looking for the Taliban to act on their promise that women will be educated, allowed to work and participate in politics.Naqdi said the Taliban tried to grab his camera, but he managed to hand it to someone in the crowd."They arrested all those who were filming and took their phones," he told AFP.The Taliban have ordered university women to wear an abaya robe and niqab covering most of the face, and has ordered classes to be segregated by sex or at least divided by a curtain.The Taliban's education authority also ordered female students to be taught by other women, but if that was not possible then"old men" of good character could fill in.Taliban officials have not responded to repeated requests for comment from AFP.Gailani pointed out that Afghanistan cannot ignore women given that the country now has many educated women.Taliban officials have not responded to repeated requests for comment from AFP.

Tens of thousands of female students are now enrolled in universities.He asked why he was being beaten, only to be told: "You are lucky you weren't beheaded".The number of girls in secondary education has also jumped.According to UNICEF, the United Nations’ agency for children, nearly 40 per cent enrolled in 2018 compared with 6 per cent in 2003.Story continues "We were in so much pain that we couldn't move," Daryabi said.Naqdi was eventually taken to a crowded cell where he found his colleague, Daryabi, who had also been arrested and beaten.Gailani argued the Taliban have no basis to bar women from going to work.She made the case for women who are the breadwinners of their families, including some who are widows."They see us as enemies," Taqi said.

“On what Islamic law you’re preventing them to work? You can’t."They see us as enemies," Taqi said.” Data from the International Labour Organization shows that female labour force participation rate as a percentage of female population ages 15 to 64 in Afghanistan rose from 15.In recent days, dozens of journalists have reported being beaten, detained or prevented from covering the protests, a show of resistance unthinkable under the Taliban's last regime in the 1990s.5 per cent in 2001 to 22.74 per cent in 2019.The protests are proving an early test for the Taliban, who after taking power on August 15 promised a more tolerant rule and to work for "the peace and prosperity of the country".Most are Afghan journalists, whom the Taliban harass more than the foreign media.Related: UN chief urges Taliban restraint, voices concern about women, girls TALK WITH AN OPEN HEART FOR PEACE Gailani called for conversation between Afghan women and the Taliban elite, stressing the Taliban should understand that Afghan women “do not want anything further and outside what we are entitled as Muslims and Afghans”.

Striking a conciliatory message of peaceful co-existence and national unity, Gailani urged the Taliban to have “an open heart”."This official speech is totally different from the reality that can be observed on the ground," he told AFP.“Let’s not see each other as a victor and the one who had fallen."This official speech is totally different from the reality that can be observed on the ground," he told AFP.No.We are the people of Afghanistan.We cannot get rid of each other.

” With Afghanistan facing a collapse of basic services and a shortage of food supplies, Gailani acknowledged that achieving peace will not be easy but insisted that it is not impossible.The UN World Food Programme has sounded the alarm that Afghanistan is running out of food by this month.By mid-2022, up to 97 per cent of Afghanistan’s population is expected to be living on no more than one dollar a day, warned the UN Development Programme.“If we are dedicated, and with the help of international community to take care of the humanitarian side of things, not allow anyone to be hungry, I think we will have our future.We will have a chance of peace,” said Gailani who served for 16 years as president of the Afghan Red Crescent Society.

But Gailani emphasised that peace will not happen without an inclusive government.“Only when we see an inclusive government, a fair government, a government that I feel, when my heart calls it ‘this is the Afghan government’, then we can achieve it (peace).” The Taliban have announced an interim Cabinet – with no female representation.Analysts point out the Taliban appear not to have changed from its previous rule with the just-announced interim Cabinet being filled by the old guard of Taliban hardliners.The man who was appointed Acting Interior Minister has been on the United Nations terror list since 2007, and has a US$10 million bounty on his head by the FBI.

The road to peace has proved long and elusive but Gailani is still pressing on and not losing hope – even after more than forty years of personal struggle, starting when she was 26 years old.“We should not give up.I will not give up.And people like me, who are staying in Afghanistan, should not give up.” Watch ‘In Conversation’ with Fatima Gailani, former president of the Afghan Red Crescent Society and Afghan peace negotiator.

Days after the shocking collapse of the Afghan government and the messy departure of US troops, the Taliban is now in power in Afghanistan.Can Afghans save Afghanistan? Find out on In Conversation.Thumbnail image: World Humanitarian Summit.OCHA Berk Ozkan Source: CNA/ac.

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