What is wrong with this picture?
After all, it looks like a typical photo of world leaders making decisions for their countries. That is precisely the problem. What’s wrong is the total absence of women—at the table, in the room, and, as a result, from the agenda at this meeting and too many meetings like it.
As the Obama administration and President Karzai’s government undertake talks-about-talks to engage the Taliban, how many women will be at that table? Afghan women have expressed concerns that “behind the scenes” peace deals are already taking place. While women have fought to be included in public processes (they hold 9 of the 70 seats of the Afghanistan High Peace Council put together by Karzai last year), they are consistently locked out of the “old boy networks” of male world leaders where decisions are being made that will have vital consequences on the lives of women and their families. That is the problem the photo makes clear. Right now, the Afghanistan peace process is proceeding without the participation of women.