With Afghan peace talks underway, those seeking to undermine the process are targeting Afghan women in hopes of derailing it. The US embassy in Afghanistan warned last month that extremist organizations are planning attacks that take direct aim at women, including teachers, government workers, and human-rights activists. The threats underscore how central Afghan women's rights are to the success of the Afghan peace process and to the country's future.
The Afghan government and the Taliban are currently meeting for the first time since a United States-Taliban deal in February promised intra-Afghan negotiations and a gradual withdrawal of US forces. Many criticize the US government for failing to secure more from the Taliban in its initial deal -- including any guarantees for Afghan women, despite years of bipartisan promises to protect Afghan women's rights.
With this omission, negotiations on women's rights now fall among a host of other complicated issues -- including a ceasefire, the structure of a power-sharing government, the reintegration of Taliban fighters -- that will test the Afghan government's resolve and the Taliban's unity. And many Afghan women fear that in this mix of contentious priorities, their rights could be traded for a chance at ending the conflict.