Calls mount for inclusion of women in upcoming Doha meeting

The venue for the second Doha meeting in Qatar in Feb. 2024. File photo.

As the upcoming Doha meeting on Afghanistan approaches, calls for the inclusion of women at the conference are intensifying. The Feminist Majority Foundation recently emphasized that Afghan women must have seats at the table.

In a statement, the foundation noted that Afghan women are currently denied opportunities to pursue their dreams or seek employment, exacerbating poverty and preventing many from supporting their families. The statement also criticized the Taliban’s plan to attend the Doha meeting on its terms.

“This means that once again, they are silencing the Afghan people, both men and women, to avoid hearing opposition to the persecution caused by their policies of gender apartheid,” the statement read. “To sideline the issues most affecting Afghans and holding Afghanistan back from progress will result in a fruitless discussion.”

Many women’s rights advocates have echoed this call for representation. “The Taliban have stated that women’s issues should not be discussed at the Doha meeting, while women are striving to facilitate recognition of gender apartheid worldwide,” said Masouda Kohistani, a women’s rights activist.

Girls and women deprived of education and work have urged participants to address their access to these fundamental rights. “It’s been nearly 500 days since we were banned from attending our universities. We urge the UN representatives to prioritize and discuss women’s rights, education, and studies at the upcoming Doha meeting,” said Wazhma, a student.

Sapida, a former NGO employee who lost her job after the Taliban banned women from working, shared her struggles. “I have been jobless for the past two years. Many other women have also become jobless and deprived of education. We hope the issue of female education will be prioritized at the Doha meeting,” she said.

The third round of the Doha meeting of special envoys on Afghanistan is scheduled for June 30.