UN Afghan mission calls for including women in peace talks. Image Source: IANS News

Kabul, March 8 : The UN said on Monday that it sought a leading role for Afghan women in the country's peace process that is expected to enter a new phase in the coming weeks or months.

In a statement marking International Women's Day, the UN said that to give Afghan women a leading role in peace, support was required from all sectors of society as well as from the government and the international community, reports Xnhua news agency.

This is also an opportunity to showcase the strengths of Afghanistan's women leaders in all their diversity, the world body said, adding that when today's women leaders are respected and supported and more girls will be encouraged to follow their path.

"The peace process has brought to the fore strong Afghan women leaders, who have negotiated on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and rallied support in their communities for a peaceful solution to the conflict," said Deborah Lyons, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan.

"Empowering these women and expanding women's participation will be critical to ensure a just and sustainable peace that protects the rights of all Afghans." "Women must be at the front and center of decision-making, to achieve a peace that lasts, for a bright future for all Afghans," said Aleta Miller, UN Women Representative in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the Friends of Afghan Women Ambassadors' Group said that the progress made by women are preserved in a negotiated political settlement.

Women in Afghanistan gained equality under the 1964 constitution, but rights were taken away in the 1990s, including under the Taliban regime.

But in 2001, a new government under the President Hamid Karzai, which was formed by the UN, included women.

Under the new constitution of 2004, 27 per cent of the 250 seats in the House of the People are reserved for women.

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