NARRATION: in 1996, a little known fundamentalist group emerged victorious: the Taliban. They imposed their harsh version of Islam across the country
SHINKAI: During the time of the Taliban, women endured the worst era.
SHINKAI OC: They were imprisoned in their homes, every form of activity in their lives was taken away.
NARRATION: Women were banned from public life. Not allowed to work or go to school. They could not go to a doctor without a male relative, even if they were dying. If women showed their faces or hands in public, they were beaten.
NARRATION: With Taliban law stacked against them, accusations of murder or adultery could lead to public execution.
NARRATION: Those five years under Taliban rule haunt women who are trying to modernize the country. Now members of the government are privately telling them that they should surrender their rights in order to help Karzai make a deal with the Taliban. Instead, they mobilize to be included at his upcoming peace Jirga.
HASINA: Hi, we’ve been waiting for you.
NARRATION: As a member of parliament Krokhail will automatically be a delegate to the Jirga.
SHINKAI OC: I have successfully defended women’s issues in parliament. I have been threatened and insulted for doing that.
NARRATION: But the women in parliament will be far outnumbered by religious conservatives who are ready to forfeit women’s’ rights. To hold their ground, Karokhail will push for more women at the Jirga.
NARRATION: No one from the women’s network knows whether Karzai will invite them to attend. Hassina Safi and the others meet anyway to devise a strategy.
NARRATION: While they debate whether to support Karzai, it is unclear whether he will support them. He has promised women only 50 of the 1600 seats at the Jirga.
NARRATION: But Secretary Clinton pressured Karzai to get them more.
WOMAN WITH GRAY PULLOVER: One piece of good news is that Aseela called and said that 315 women have been included in the Jirga.
NARRATION: With Clinton’s help, 20 percent of the delgates will now be women.
NARRATION: The opening day of President Karzai’s peace Jirga arrives. The women are thrilled. They are taking part in the first public debate among afghan citizens on how to end the war.
SHAHIDA OC: We are taking the first steps towards peace.
NARRATION: Many of the men here have never sat in the same room with women who are not relatives.
MAN TWO: There are some here who will say they are just women. But these women are our mothers, our sisters, our daughters.
Man Two: We should come to the right conclusion.
SHINKAI: It was the first time that Afghan women come together with Afghan men and discussing the peace. Maybe it was a very symbolic, but it was a breaking something a way to break the culture to impose the presence of women.
NARRATION: The Jirga gives Karzai the backing he needs to negotiate with the Taliban.
NARRATION: The women’s presence here helped legitimize Karzai’s leadership in the eyes of the international community. But they get no guarantee from Karzai that women will play a role in the future.
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