Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai says that “there should be no compromise” on the right to education for Afghan girls in ongoing peace negotiations between the government and Taliban militants.
In an exclusive interview with RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal on September 21, Yousafzai said that “peace is precious” for the Afghan people after suffering through four decades of war, losing their family members, homes, and livelihoods.
Malala, who was awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for her campaign supporting the education of girls, stressed that women’s freedoms and human rights should not be undermined in any peace process.
“We all hope that peace comes to this world so that our people have their own normal life. But it is very necessary that [the government and the Taliban] have to listen to the voices of civil society and women and there should be no compromise on girls’ education and human rights because peace can’t be restored without human rights,” said Malala, who was shot in the head by a Pakistani Taliban gunman when she was on her way to school in the Swat Valley.
Women’s rights is one of the thorniest issues in the long-delayed, U.S.-brokered peace talks that began in Doha on September 12.
During its brief administration in Afghanistan, the Taliban banned women from going to school and working outside their homes, while also brutally enforcing a strict dress code.
Many Afghan activists fear that women’s rights could be a casualty of peace negotiations despite recent pledges by Taliban officials that they will respect women’s rights under Islamic law.
Millions of Afghan girls have gone to school and women enjoy the right to work and participate in politics since the collapse of the Taliban regime in 2001.