Women who lived under the harsh rule of the Taliban urged senior Afghan politicians to ensure their hard-won freedoms are not bargained away when they talk peace with the insurgents yesterday.
The Afghan Women's Network said their rights should not be used as a "political tool" in dealings with the Taliban, who barred women from schools and jobs and drastically curtailed their personal liberties when they ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.
Their appeal comes as the Taliban meets with a high-ranking Afghan delegation in Moscow, and a week after the insurgents held unprecedented talks with United States negotiators.
The Taliban said the Moscow meeting -- their most significant with Afghan politicians in recent memory -- would discuss the withdrawal of foreign troops, peace terms and its vision for governance.
The two-day gathering is separate from the US-Taliban negotiations in Doha in January, that ended with both sides touting "progress" and a draft framework which could pave the way for peace talks.
No representative from President Ashraf Ghani's government -- which the Taliban considers a US puppet -- was invited to either occasion, angering officials in Kabul.
Afghan women, also largely excluded from the table, fear seeing their hard-won rights eroded if negotiators seek a hasty truce with the Taliban.
"Women should not be used as a political tool by these politicians. If they (Taliban) return and impose restrictions on women, we will not accept that," Mashal Roshan, a coordinator from the Kabul-based women's network, told AFP.
“In the past 17 years Afghan women have gained some hard-won achievements. We don't want to lose that. It's our right to go to school and to work, and everyone should respect that."