Afghan Activist Says Taliban Cannot Rule Without Women

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The Taliban can’t rule Afghanistan without women, a former mayor who fled Kabul last month told the United Nations.

Political activist Zarifa Ghafari insisted that the Taliban must allow women to play a meaningful part in Afghanistan’s future.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Geneva Peace Talks on Tuesday Ghafari described how the situation has deteriorated in the country.

She said that since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August “life is getting so hard for everyone”.

“The financial situation, poverty, the level of violence, the level of poverty, the level of fear, the level of losses goes on and up always, day by day,” she said.

Ghafari became the mayor of Maidan Shar, near Kabul, in 2018, at the age of 26. She survived attacks on her life by the Taliban, who murdered her father.

“Taliban attacked me three times. They killed my dad, they destroyed my yesterday and my future… And they took all the hopes and everything that I had and the world that I made for myself,” she said.

Following her escape from Afghanistan Ghafari has spent her time determined to speak up on behalf of all Afghan women – noting that not a single one has been appointed to the new Afghan rulers’ cabinet.

“Qualifications in this new government is being part of jihad, being part of killing of people,” she maintained, adding that she didn’t care if the Taliban appointees were “Hazara, Uzbek, Pashtun or whatever…there are no women, so this this cabinet, it’s not my cabinet”.

Volunteering herself for talks with the Taliban on behalf of all Afghan women, Ghafari said that women had been “the biggest victims of ongoing conflicts since more than 60 years”.

She added: “I want to talk to them on behalf of all women of Afghanistan who have been already paid a big amount of prices for the war or maybe for the peace. So now, they are just lost.”

A certain amount of progress on gender equality has happened in Afghanistan since the country’s new rulers were last in power, 20 years ago, Ghafari continued: “We are not the women of 2001, we are not the women of the 90s; if they really want to govern and lead in Afghanistan, they are not able to govern without 50 per cent of Afghanistan which are women.”

Nonetheless, the former mayor of Maidan Shar remains concerned about the future of girls and women whose education is under threat. “More than 50 per cent of teachers at school were women around the country,” she said. “But now, women are just forced to stay at home and more importantly, and so the worst part, is asking women, asking girls not to come to school and abandoning them from school.”

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    Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country at the crossroads of Central and South Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan to the east and south; Iran to the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to the north; and China to the northeast.

    Occupying 652,000 square kilometers (252,000 sq mi), it is a mountainous country with plains in the north and southwest. Kabul is the capital and largest city. The population is around 32 million, composed mostly of ethnic Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks.

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    The Taliban or Taleban, who refer to themselves as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, is a Deobandi Islamist movement and military organization in Afghanistan, currently waging war within the country. Since 2016, the Taliban’s leader has been Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada.

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