Senator Shaheen (D-NH) brought Afghanistan Ambassador Roya Rahmani, the first female ambassador of Afghanistan to the United States, as her guest to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s Joint Address to Congress to highlight the need for women’s inclusion in all peace talks involving the U.S. and the Taliban.

“I am thankful for Ambassador Rahmani’s willingness to join me at today’s joint session of Congress with NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg. Her presence is a reminder of how NATO Allies came together on September 12, 2001 to invoke Article 5 of the NATO charter— for the first and only time— in defense of the United States. She is also the first female ambassador of Afghanistan, which not only represents the immense progress Afghanistan has made since that day, but what is at stake if the United States does not push for Afghan women to be included in negotiations with the Taliban. It is the policy of the United States to ensure that women have a place in all such negotiations, and nowhere is this more needed than in Afghanistan,” said Shaheen.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen, the only woman on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has led recent efforts in Congress to fight for women’s inclusion in Afghan peace talks. In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in February, Senators Shaheen, Leahy, and Menendez demand that the Trump administration include meaningful participation for Afghan women in any peace negotiations with the Taliban. In the letter, the lawmakers write, “we urge you to ensure our investment of time, resources and the lives of U.S. soldiers will not have gone to waste by ensuring that Afghan women are represented and issues central to their rights and needs ae part of any negotiation going forward.”

The recent peace talks between the United States and the Taliban, not the Afghan government, are in direct violation of the 2017 Women, Peace, and Security Act that requires the “meaningful participation of women in conflict prevention, management, and resolution, and post-conflict relief and recovery efforts.”  Donald Trump signed this Act into law in 2017, yet the Trump administration has failed to outline a strategic plan for women’s participation that was required to be sent to Congress in October 2018.

Afghan women fear that negotiations with the Taliban, especially negotiations without women, will leave women vulnerable to losing their rights, which occurred under the brutal Taliban rule of the late 1990s. Women under previous Taliban rule were subjected to public beatings and executions. Women could not leave their homes without a male chaperone and women and girls could not be admitted to a hospital, go to school, or be employed. Women’s rights are one of the most vital issues when discussing peace talks and the end of the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, yet women are excluded from these discussions.

 

Media Resources: Press Release 4/3/19; Feminist Newswire 2/28/19; Pajwok Afghan News 2/26/19; Politico 2/5/19

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