The Afghan women's rights activist who says the world should talk to the Taliban

Others, such as Nobel Peace laureate Malala Yousafzai, say the Taliban cannot be trusted or given any kind of legitimacy and governments should continue to shun them.

An independent assessment of potential engagement that was submitted to the Security Council in November said the basic rights of women and girls “are not only fundamental obligations of a state, but also critical to build state capacity for long-term development and economic growth and peace and security,” according to Reuters.

In its response to the assessment, Reuters reported, the Taliban said it was obligated to consider Afghanistan’s “religious values and national interests” and that no one would be allowed to interfere in the country’s internal affairs.

The Taliban also defended their record on women, saying they respected women’s rights in line with their interpretation of Islamic law.

Seraj argues that the best way forward with the Taliban “is to talk, and come up with some kind of an agreement.”

“Every single day that it goes on with the Taliban not being recognized, it’s not that the Taliban are being pushed in a corner, it’s the people of Afghanistan that are being denied their rights everywhere — in the United Nations, in the world, in the conferences and the meetings,” she said.

Though the Taliban are struggling to transition from waging war to running a country, Seraj said, trying to install a new, more palatable government would only bring more chaos.

“If we keep on changing government, after government, after government, we cannot afford that,” she said.

That doesn’t mean consigning Afghanistan’s 20 million women to second-class citizenship, Seraj said, arguing that the world cannot move to accept the Taliban unless they engage in parallel, step-by-step reforms.

“They have to recognize [women’s rights] first for the world to recognize them, but it has to happen,” she said. “So in order for that to happen, they have to have a talk.”

There is no time to waste, she added.


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