U.S. actress Angelina Jolie, who is an activist for refugee-related causes, has urged in a speech at the United Nations that women be represented in the peace process aimed at ending the long conflict in Afghanistan.
"In Afghanistan thousands of women have recently come together in public risking their lives to ask that their rights and the rights of their children be guaranteed in peace negotiations that so far they have been allowed no part of," Jolie told ministers and diplomats at the UN on March 29.
"The international community's silent response is alarming, to say the least," Jolie added. "There can be no peace or stability in Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world that involves trading away the rights of women."
The world "will remain stuck in a cycle of violence and conflicts" as long as countries put almost every other issue ahead of equality for women, she said.
The 43-year-old Academy Award-winning actress serves as a special envoy for the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency that she began working with 18 years ago.
The United States has been leading peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar as Washington seeks to end the nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan.
The government in Kabul has complained about being left out of direct talks, as the Taliban refuse to negotiate with Afghan officials, calling them puppets of the United States.
Some women have also expressed concerns that their voices are being sidelined and that the small gains experienced since the Taliban was driven from power in 2001 could be reversed if the extremist group is allowed back into government.
More generally, Jolie said there are many examples of successful and inspiring women throughout the world, "but women and girls are still the majority of the victims of war."
"They are over half of all refugees, and the vast majority of the victims of rape and other sexual and gender-based violence," she said in the UN speech.
With reporting by Reuters, AP, People, and AFP