The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security welcomed US government officials and Afghan leaders to campus on July 11 to discuss the role of women in the ongoing Afghan peace process. Speakers agreed that including Afghan women is not only critical for preserving their rights, but is also key to US national security. The event was co-hosted by the US-Afghan Women’s Council and the Alliance in Support of the Afghan People, and covered by NPR, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Dunya News among other outlets.
During the event, the US envoy leading peace negotiations with the Taliban, Amb. Zalmay Khalilzad, provided an update on the peace process and reaffirmed his commitment to including Afghan women at the negotiating table.
“We are not cutting and running,” said Amb. Khalilzad. “We are not looking for a withdrawal agreement. We are looking for a peace agreement.”
Acting Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells, Representative Michael Waltz [R-FL6], and Representative Chrissy Houlahan [D-PA-6] further emphasized the United States’ commitment to a peace process that reflects the rights, interests, and grievances of Afghan women.
“We will continue to make it clear that Afghanistan’s future relationship with the international community, and particularly donors, will depend heavily upon the inclusivity of that peace, including the rights of women,” said Amb. Alice Wells.
Afghan women leaders, including the first female ambassador of Afghanistan to the US Roya Rahmani, also called for an inclusive peace process.
“Inclusivity means real representation: not just elites getting a seat at the table,” said Amb. Rahmani. She added: “Being at the table is a means, not the end.”
She was joined by Palwasha Kakar, Wania Yad, and Arash Azizzada.
Three Afghan women – Mary Akrami, Asila Wardak, and Ghizaal Haress – joined the conversation via Skype from Kabul to reflect on their recent experience at the Doha peace talks.
They were asked about the Taliban’s assurances of women’s rights within the Islamic framework of Islamic values.
“If we leave it to broad interpretation or to the broad idea of women’s ‘Islamic values’ then we’re going to be in trouble,” said Haress.