Oslo/Kabul - A group of Afghan women has held unprecedented talks with the Taliban in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.

The women say they focused on the need to protect their rights in any future power-sharing deal. One delegate described the talks as “historic”. It is the latest sign of moves by Kabul and the Taliban to explore a peaceful end to the current conflict.

It comes a month after similar talks in Qatar between the militants and an unofficial Afghan delegation. Little information about the progress of those meetings - which included several women - was made public.

About a dozen women flew to Oslo for the first all-female delegation to sit down with Taliban representatives. Many do not want their identities to be made public. One of the exceptions is Shukria Barakzai, a female Afghan member of parliament. She was targeted by militants in a suicide bomb attack last year but escaped with minor injuries.

Speaking to the BBC as she travelled back to Kabul on Saturday, she described the meetings as very important for the women of Afghanistan. “Afghan women defended their rights with courage,” she said. Their demands at this initial meeting were about “safeguarding the democratic values achieved in the last decade”.

Both parties agreed that the ongoing conflict was in no-one’s interest, she added, and to reach a peaceful settlement, they needed to continue talking. The protection of fundamental rights for women in any future power-sharing agreement is likely to be a key issue both for Afghan women themselves and for the international community.

Under the Taliban, women were stripped of many basic freedoms, including the right to work and the right to education. Many fear their lives will again worsen if the Taliban regains influence. Some analysts suggest that changes in the past year - including the election of President Ashraf Ghani and the end of the Nato-led combat mission in Afghanistan - may make the current political climate more conducive to a settlement. Afghan security forces and militant fighters are locked in a battle for control over a remote district in northeastern Afghanistan, officials said on Saturday. Moreover, police and local officials evacuated their compounds in the central district of Yamgan in Badakhshan province on Saturday as militants laid siege to the area, provincial governor Shah Waliullah Adib told Reuters. “But they now are fighting to take back control of the district,” Adib said.

“We have enough forces to take the district back and keep it in future.” Six militants were killed by Afghan security forces during the clearance operation, interior ministry spokesman Sediq Seddiqi said on Twitter. Fighting in Afghanistan intensifies each spring as snows that make mountainous areas impassable melt, allowing greater movement of fighters and weapons. The Taliban’s offensive has been more aggressive and widespread than previous years, including an earlier attack in Badakhshan’s Jorm district in April.

This is the first year that Afghanistan’s security forces are facing the insurgency on their own, after most foreign troops withdrew at the end of last year and the new NATO-led mission shifted its focus to training and advising the Afghan military and government. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. A Taliban spokesman said its fighters had killed 18 Afghan security force members, though the insurgent group’s claims of casualty numbers are often inflated. In the first four months of 2015, the United Nations recorded 2,937 casualties nationwide, including 974 deaths, a record number and a 16 percent increase over the same period last year.