US National Intelligence Council had issued an assessment regarding women rights in Afghanistan after US and NATO withdrawal from the war-torn country. The report stated that the Taliban would roll back much of the progress made in Afghan women’s rights if they regain national power in the country. The report had spread fear among International Intelligentsia, Afghan women and Afghan national women leaders that women might face the pre-2001 era harsh treatment, if Taliban came into power at national level or at least in those areas where they get hold after the US withdrawal. These fears always remained in the minds of Afghan women whenever they perceived the future system of their country. These apprehensions got deep roots with the conclusion of US-Taliban Doha agreement in February 2020. The US Intelligence assessment further said that if Taliban do not act intentionally in the direction to curb women rights either than these rights would be squeeze due to conservative nature of the Afghan male dominated society.
The report further admitted that the Progress in women’s rights was due to external pressure and US focus instead of any desire or support from domestic front. Since from US occupation in 2001, all US administrations starting from President George W. Bush, Obama and Trump all attached special importance to women rights in the country. Whereas, the previous two administrations set it as pre-condition during their talks with Taliban on future of Afghanistan during past, however Trump aides remained limited to opposed to regrouping of terrorists in the post US-Afghanistan. After 2001, Afghan women had made the remarkable achievements in the fields of education, health, social justice, politics, government service and entrepreneurship etc. due to huge investment and backing of US government. Today, Afghan women had sufficient presence at high positions in civil bureaucracy, politics, social services, and business sector of the country.
As per statistics, about 3.5 million Afghan girls are attending schools at time, 33 percent are studying in Primary, and 39 percent are attending Secondary institutions, while 100,000 girls are attending the Universities in the country. While women share in the jobs during 2020 was about 21 percent in Afghan civil service including 16 percent in senior management levels. At political front women have 27 percent representation in Afghan parliament. Currently, five women are the part of 21 members Afghan government negotiating team for Intra-Afghan negotiations, whereas 9 women are part of 46 members High Council for National Reconciliation, a national body overseeing the Afghan Peace process.
On other hand, Taliban did not extend such participation to women in their political system, government service etc. According to reports, during Intra-Afghan dialogues, the Afghan side expressed concerns over non-participation of women in Intra-Afghan negotiation from Taliban side but Taliban did not pay heed to such objections and till time women do not have any representation in Taliban decision making process.
The US administration Peace negotiating team left this topic to Afghans to decide women rights and role in future Afghan Society themselves during Intra-Afghan negotiations. Once, US withdraw it’s troops out of Afghan soil its leverage will automatically reduce and the fate of Afghan women would be uncertain because Afghan male leaders do not have much interest in this regard. However, the US must work to ensure women significant participation in next political system of the country to preserve the women rights and development made over the last two decades.