Stand with Afghan Women
Despite Afghan women and girls’ gains and the establishment of a constitutional democracy, the Trump Administration and Taliban leaders have signed an egregious agreement that omits women’s rights, human rights, and democracy.
The agreement focuses on the withdrawal of "all military forces of the United States, its allies and Coalition partners, all non-diplomatic civilian personnel… trainers and advisors” within 14 months. In return, the Taliban’s guarantee that Afghanistan will not be used by terrorist groups to threaten the U.S. and its allies’ security. In this agreement, there is no way to monitor or verify whether or not the Taliban keeps its’ promises.Tell Congress that Afghan women’s rights must not be traded away, and Afghan women must be at the negotiation table.
The agreement also makes no commitment to preserve and continue the amazing progress achieved in education, healthcare, security, and freedom of the media over the last two decades. These exclusions have alarmed Afghan women leaders and their allies.
While U.S. officials did not include the issues of women’s rights, human rights, or the Afghan government in the U.S.-Taliban agreement, it is imperative that they are important part of the negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government. The Taliban must not succeed in rolling back the progress that has been achieved with so much blood and treasure by Afghans, the U.S., and our international allies. The Afghan people, especially Afghan women, have made it clear time and again that they do not want to go back to live under the Taliban rule.
In surveys, the Afghan people have also made it clear that they do not want to abandon women’s rights, their education or right to work. More than 86% of Afghans support women’s equal access to education and more than 68% approve of women’s right to work outside the home and that they would not support an agreement that rolls back women’s rights.
Afghan women and the Afghan government were excluded from the negotiations between the U.S. and the Taliban, at the demand of the Taliban. The exclusion of women from these negotiations was a clear violation of the U.S. Women Peace and Security Act, passed into law in 2017. In omitting the Afghan government, the U.S. Trump Administration has undermined the Afghan government, its legitimacy, and its hard work in creating relative stability and progress. The Taliban has continuously refused to recognize the democratically elected government of Afghanistan, its Constitution and to renounce its own desire to rule. They have shown no progress in cruelly denying women their human rights.
Throughout this process and their mobilizing across Afghanistan and round the world, Afghans, especially Afghan women, have made it clear that they want to have a modern, free and secure life which includes equal access to education, healthcare, work outside the home, freedom of the media, and with human rights for all.
Through the peace process, the U.S. officials play a critical role. As Sec. Pompeo stated in a press briefing, the U.S. will be leading some of these negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban. We must not inadvertently help the Taliban to impose their brutal edicts on the Afghan people. We must listen to the women of Afghanistan and respect their desire for having a fair and decent life.
This agreement between the U.S.-Taliban violates our previous commitments to Afghanistan as well, which guarantee support to the “sovereign” Afghan government until 2024. The violation of the Chicago agreement and others threatens the U.S. reputation in honoring its international commitments.
Finally, the terms of the agreement are not practical or enforceable. This agreement endangers our national security, the geopolitical stability of the region and the national security of Afghanistan. To trust the Taliban with our security would make a mockery of all the sacrifices of the Afghan people, the U.S., NATO and the international community. Also, to ignore the lives and rights of one-half of the Afghan people is not a road to peace, but a dangerous road to chaos and violations of human rights and women’s rights.