31 Aug 2021

Taliban must recognise women’s rights before return to Afghanistan, says former Ghani advisor

Farkhunda Naderi, who is a former Afghan MP and advisor to President Ashraf Ghani, is currently living in Uzbekistan.

She spoke to Jon Snow about whether she saw any source of hope for women’s rights in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. 

FN: There is so much hidden beauty over there. I know we are all full of hearing and seeing crises and they are real, this is the reality right now on the ground. But amidst all this crisis, there’s so much potential… To the Taliban, they have got to understand that deep down, we are talking to human beings, regardless of what happened in the previous regime, that not only Afghans, but the world has been shocked (by) the way women were treated. They have a huge responsibility towards their own people.

JS: Is there a chance that that space that you talk about could open up and we will see some sign that they have learnt something from the last 30 years of struggle?

FN: The security of Afghans are on the shoulders of Afghans, and that starts with (the) Taliban. Because they have been claiming this more strongly than any Afghan ever did inside the country. So they have to fulfil those promises that they made not only on international stages, but also to the Afghans.

JS: You are in Uzbekistan, what do you need to see to give you the confidence to go back?

FN: I want to go there as an Afghan to take responsibility and others would recognise me… Amid all the crises that we have in Kabul, a couple of days ago I saw on Tolo News one of the prominent Afghan women… appeared on TV. One of the Taliban’s gentlemen was sitting on the other side of the table and she wanted to start a dialogue about women’s rights. It was the first time I saw a woman sitting around a table with the Taliban talking about women’s rights. And that was not a confrontation, that was a dialogue.

JS: That’s a big moment, but you need more moments before you can risk your life and go back. And what are you looking for?

Fn: We need a transition from this fear and panic to normality, and we need positive steps in order to define the new reality to the Afghan people that people can believe. And that’s why I mentioned this good story, that it should be acknowledged and we need more of such a kind of spaces. And it’s not about confrontation, who will win, who will lose, it’s about how we can have a win-win situation for a country that needs everyone to be a winner.