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Rival Afghan Parties Establish An Interim Power-Sharing Agreement in Afghanistan, Naming Two women to Government Positions, But Women Activists Want More

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Rival Afghan parties finalized a deal today on who will govern their country when the war is over. The power-sharing agreement, hammered out in over a week of talks outside Bonn, promises to name two women in the cabinet-one as deputy premier and minister of women’s affairs, and another as the health minister. After a marathon 10-hour negotiating session, Hamid Karzai, a Pashtun leader, was named the head of the interim administration. The interim administration will govern from December 22 until Afghanistan’s traditional assembly meets in the spring to appoint a government to rule for a further two years until elections are held.

The deal establishes a 30-member interim Cabinet and grants all Afghan women the right to vote for the first time inmany years.

The major challenges of the Bonn talks have been finding an ethnic and political balance between representatives ofthe powerful Northern Alliance, the former King and two exile groups, and securing a role for women.

But while only a handful of women were invited to participate in the talks in Bonn, and almost all were observerswithout voting power, this week, 50 Afghan women leaders traveled to Brussels to draw up their own demands. Today isthe final day of the two-day Afghan Women’s Summit for Democracy. Many of the women who traveled to Brussels riskedtheir lives under the Taliban defending women’s right to work, to be educated and to live without fear ofpersecution. Now, they want women to play a part in any future solution for their country. But many are doubtful thatthe collapse of the Taliban will bring them freedom. Tomorrow, we will hear a roundtable of women at the Brusselsconference.

A delegation of Afghan women plan to meet with the European Parliament, U.S.Secretary of State Colin Powell, and the UN Security Council in the upcoming weeks.

Two weeks ago, Soralya Parlika, head of the Union of the Women of Afghanistan, organized a rally of women in Kabul.About a hundred women from the Union of Women gathered, intending to march to the United Nations compound to demandmore rights. The women included politicians, academics and activists, among the first to show their faces in publicin the capital since the Taliban took Kabul in 1996. The women lifted up their burkas in the street. But the rulingNorthern Alliance told Parlika that there that the march would not be allowed, because they couldn’t guarantee thewomen’s safety It was the second time in a week the women had been refused permission to walk to the main UNcompound, with security given as the reason both times. Parlika said she would plan further marches after she knewthe outcome of the Bonn talks.

Radio France International correspondent Tony Cross interviewed Sorya Parlika in Kabul, and he asked if she thoughtthat this was true. The interview is translated by Kamal Nasser.


  • Radio France International Correspondent Tony Cross Interviews Soralya Parlika.

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