(Digital Journal): Five Afghan women who endured the Taliban’s oppressive rule and fought for fragile gains since the militants were ousted are now preparing to face the hardline group in peace talks. Their presence at the negotiating table is significant in patriarchal Afghanistan, though they will be outnumbered by the rest of the Afghan government’s team of 16 men and the Taliban’s male-only side. “The Taliban have to understand that they are facing a new Afghanistan with which they have to learn to live,” said Fawzia Koofi, one of the negotiators and a high-profile women’s rights campaigner. The politician has survived two assassination attempts during her career — the latest was just weeks ago near the capital Kabul and came after the Taliban and Afghan government said they were ready for talks to begin. “Being in such an important role is not something which is very common in Afghanistan, so you really have to find your way among those people who do not believe in a woman’s presence,” Koofi told AFP before the shooting. When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, her husband was jailed and she was threatened with stoning for wearing nail polish, she said. Religious police whipped women in the street if they wore anything other than an all-concealing burqa, and those accused of adultery were sometimes executed at sports stadiums after Friday prayers. Another negotiator, Habiba Sarabi, who was barred from working under Taliban rule and forced to flee to Pakistan so she could continue to teach, wants to ensure Afghanistan remains a republic and not a Taliban-run “emirate” where religious law trumps constitutional rights. The 62-year-old, who on her return to Afghanistan became the country’s first female provincial governor and has served as a minister twice, remains unconvinced that Taliban militants on the front line have changed, despite the group’s political leaders moving closer to peace talks with the Afghan government. “The fighters here in Afghanistan have the same ideology, they have the same behaviour,” she said. The other two women on the negotiating team are Shahla Fareed, who is a lawyer, women’s rights activist and university lecturer; and Sharifa Zurmati, a former broadcaster and local politician in the eastern province of Paktia.