Male delegation met with Taliban, Islamic fundamentalists at the center of criticism


  • Pakistan advises Taliban to seek international support
  • Taliban faces criticism for not including women in delegation
  • Taliban hasn’t hired a single woman in its new caretaker government

New Delhi:

The government of Afghanistan is once again under attack from global powers over the issue of women’s representation. The Taliban sent only men to the government delegation to meet radical Islamists, not including a single woman. The Taliban is facing criticism from global powers for this decision. Since seizing power in August, the Taliban has not hired a single woman in its new caretaker government and banned women from going to work and education. This decision of Taliban is being condemned all over the world.

But women’s representation has been slightly better among some governments and aid groups in their meetings in the capital with Afghanistan’s new rulers, who are seeking international recognition.

“The senior women in your teams should lead your negotiations with the Taliban… don’t exclude women,” said Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission’s head-in-exile Shahrazad Akbar.

In a tweet addressed to “governments and aid agencies”, she called on them to “not normalize the Taliban’s exclusion of women”.

Human Rights Watch’s Heather Barr made a list of photos posted by the Taliban of their meetings with delegations in Kabul under the hashtag “sausage party”.

“Foreign countries, and aid organizations in particular, should lead by example. No one should let the Taliban think that this kind of only men’s world they are creating… is normal.”

The Taliban have posted dozens of photos of closed-door meetings with groups of foreign representatives on social media, in which not a single woman is visible.

One of several meetings shown earlier this month between British envoy Simon Gas and the Taliban’s interim deputy prime ministers Abdul Ghani Baradar and Abdul Salam Hanafi sitting on a couch in a grand room. An official said it was a coincidence that both the special envoy and the chief of mission were men.

Pakistan, which has advised the Taliban to seek international support, also posted photos and videos of an all-male group in Kabul with the foreign minister and intelligence chief.

Fauzia Kufi, one of the negotiators at the failed peace talks between the then Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha last year, expressed her anger.

“As world leaders, they also need to act when they talk about women’s rights. They need to show that they believe in it, that it’s not just a political statement. ”

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There are several photographs of meetings between the Taliban and humanitarian organizations that followed the same pattern. The organizations on his list highlighted their dedication to women’s rights and said they try to include women in meetings with the Taliban.

But many admitted to having at least one meeting with radical Islamists, in which none of the women were involved.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, the United Nations Children’s Agency, and Doctors Without Borders reported that on the occasion of the photograph, they had sent only small delegations of top leaders, who were men.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies meanwhile said that last-minute scheduling changes meant that a female staff member was unable to attend due to lack of participation, turning a meeting into an all-male event.

The lack of women in such high-level positions suggests that while Afghanistan may be an extreme example, it is not the only place where women are being denied an equal seat at the table.

“It feels very strange to raise those concerns about women’s rights in a room full of all the men.”

Since then the United Nations has announced its first all-female mission to Afghanistan to discuss girls’ education with the Taliban.

While not including women in their teams, the group’s leaders met with several women, including in Doha talks with the then Afghan government.

Kufi, who has survived two assassination attempts, previously hesitated to engage in negotiations with militants who jailed her husband and threatened to stone him for wearing nail polish during their 1990s regime .

He said that now those who have the power to ensure that women have a seat at the table often fail to do so.

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