BRUSSELS, November 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --
Excluding the voice of women and girls from the forthcoming Bonn conference on the future of Afghanistan will embolden the Taliban and create untold problems for the country's future, Dr Massouda Jalal, founder and head of the Jalal Foundation, said today as she concluded a two-week advocacy tour of key European cities.
Dr Jalal said that her tour - organised in collaboration with Brussels-based NGO South Asia Democratic Forum - had been a vital opportunity in the run-up to Bonn to remind policymakers in Europe of the dangers of integrating the Taliban into the Afghan government.
Dr Jalal said she was particularly heartened by the response of international organisations such as NATO, UNHCR and ILO to her concerns.
She welcomed an offer from NATO to develop practical ways of working together to help women and girls in Afghanistan.
Dr Jalal said she was delighted at comments made by a senior official of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees that civil society should be 'infused' into the Bonn dialogue and not kept separate.
And she applauded comments by one of the top management team of the United Nations International Labour Office, who said that excluding women from decisions about the future of Afghanistan would be a disaster for the country.
During her meetings with senior politicians, officials and representatives of NGOs in Berlin, Brussels, Paris and Geneva, Dr Jalal reiterated her view that Afghanistan's women should be fully represented at the Bonn conference.
She underlined the deep opposition among most Afghans to negotiations with the Taliban and she said the international community was making a grave mistake by assuming that the Taliban would accept democratic principles and human rights standards if they are integrated into Afghanistan's governance structures.
The visit by Dr Jalal reinforced her position as Afghanistan's leading champion of women's and girls' rights in Afghanistan, a role she performs through the Jalal Foundation, which itself is one of the country's foremost advocacy organisations working in its field.
Dr Jalal said:
"With the Bonn conference only a few weeks away it's vital that the women of Afghanistan get their message across.
"Excluding us from the Bonn dialogue would be disastrous for human rights and peace-building in Afghanistan.
"The international community is making a grave mistake if it thinks that rehabilitating the Taliban is the solution for Afghanistan's political future.
"Most people in Afghanistan suffered terribly under the Taliban and they don't want the Taliban to come back.
"The Taliban categorically reject all progressive, democratic and humane values.
"Creating the conditions for the Taliban to be integrated into Afghanistan's governance is a short-sighted and disastrous policy that will have consequences for decades to come.
"I am pleased that many politically influential people in Europe understand the importance of empowering women and girls in Afghanistan.
"The international community has invested so much in Afghanistan in the past decade and the improved situation of women and girls in my country reflects that investment.
"Allowing the Taliban to regain a hold on power would undo all that progress instantly.
"The Bonn conference cannot claim any legitimacy unless it adequately reflects the views of Afghanistan's women.
"Those views are clear. We don't want the Taliban to be part of our country's future.
"I am grateful for SADF's organisational and financial support during my time in Europe, and I am pleased that we have reinforced our links on issues of shared concern."
Media Contacts, Paulo Casaca, South Asia Democratic Forum, firstname.lastname@example.org, +32-27917525
SOURCE South Asia Democratic Forum