Female Northern Alliance member demands role for Afghan women
Sunday November 25, 1:15 AM AFP
A female member of Afghanistan's opposition Northern Alliance have demanded a greater role for Afghan women in the country's post-Taliban political landscape.
"We think that from now on women must participate in Afghanistan's political decision-making and have a more important role," said Amena Safi-Afzali, a female Northern Alliance member set to attend Tuesday's UN conference on the future of war-torn Afghanistan.
She is believed to be only one of two Afghan women expected to participate in the conference.
Sources close to the faction of former Afghan king Mohammed Zahir Shah in Rome earlier said that they had chosen Sima Wali, an Afghan woman living in the United States, to be a member of their delegation.
"Unfortunately, the rights of Afghan women have always been ignored and under the Taliban, women were not even considered to be a complete part of the Afghan society," Safi-Afzali, 43, told AFP, commenting on the Taliban militia's rule.
The Taliban banned women from appearing in public without a veil and barred them from schools, as it implemented its interpretation of Islamic law, after grabbing power in 1996.
"I have always contributed to rallying Afghan women for their rights," said Safi-Afzali, who heads the Women's Islamic Movement of Afghanistan and lives in the Iranian frontier city of Mashhad.
Safi-Afzali, the widow of a slain Afghan fighter, expressed high hopes for the UN conference on Tuesday in Bonn, Germany.
"It's good news and I hope it will permit Afghan women to find their place in the heart of society," she said.
Representatives of Afghan groups seeking a stake in post-Taliban Afghanistan are to gather at the UN conference, under the guidance of Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN special representative on Afghanistan.
The meeting will bring the Northern Alliance together with three other Afghan groups.
Representatives for Zahir Shah, delegates for the Pashtun tribes in southern Afghanistan who make up most of the population and representatives on behalf of some four million refugees, most of whom live in Iran and Pakistan, are due at the conference.
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