"Women are clearly affected in different ways by war, and other social issues around violence, and have a very different experience of that than men do," said Annie Bird, director of the Rights and Ecology Program at the Center for Political Ecology
. "That means that they have different priorities in both imagining and making real peace."
Bird played a role in Guatemala's 1996 peace talks
, which included two women. Those talks were highlighted by the U.N. for their inclusion. For Bird, cutting out the female perspective, whether it be in Guatemala or in Afghanistan, is detrimental to overall peace.
"If women's needs and women's understanding of what's needed to make peace are left out, it would be impossible to really structure a lasting peace. After all, women are half of the world," said Bird.
In Afghanistan's case, women have been excluded repeatedly, and without consequence.
"It's disappointing how key donor countries, which have a lot of influence over Afghanistan, have not seen this as an issue," said Barr. "If it's not an important issue to the U.S. or the U.K., then why would it be important to the Afghan government?"
For his part, Ghani has said
that he would allow women's involvement in peace talks, but at an unannounced later date he calls the "right time."
However, with increased fighting, and the drawdown of international military forces, women's rights activists argue that now is the time.
"You can’t have women show up at the end, for the celebratory ceremony," said Barr. "The moment when women's input is the most crucial is throughout the entire process."