Afghanistan: Constitutional Commission Includes Seven Women

A 35-member commission appointed to review Afghanistan’s draft constitution includes seven women. A preliminary draft of the constitution was completed last November by an eight-member committee headed by Vice President Nayiamatullah Shahrani, according to the Associated Press. The new commission will spend a month refining the draft, and then they will solicit the views of selected Afghans across the country and incorporate their suggestions in the final draft to be presented to the loya jirga in October, AP reports.

However, experts have warned that unless there is greater security in Afghanistan, the drafting of the constitution will be a “meaningless exercise,” according to Voice of America. Factional fighting last month in northwestern Afghanistan killed 38 civilians, including women and children, according to Reuters. In addition, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and the United Nations report that factional fighters in the Bagdhis province have committed abuses that include the rape of women, Reuters reports. The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and Ministry of Women’s Affairs have made several recommendations to the commission working on the constitution to improve the status of women, including provisions to guarantee women’s rights, give women full citizenship, increase the age for marriage, and implement compulsory education for girls and boys. In addition, the institutions are urging that the constitution serve as the law of the land, above custom or local rule.

Afghan civilians trying to rebuild their homes and their communities lack financial support from the US, where the scant funds earmarked to aid civilians has not actually reached them. For example, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) earmarked $1.25 million in last year’s budget to help Afghan civilians who had experienced losses due to US military action, according to the Washington Post. However, none of that money has helped Afghans who have suffered the most basic losses: the destruction of their homes, the maiming and deaths of their children and relatives, and the devastation of their livelihoods, the Post reports.

The Feminist Majority continues leading the call for ISAF expansion, increased reconstruction funding, and for more resources to support the work of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Independent Human Rights Commission.

TAKE ACTION Urge Congress to Appropriate Funds for Expanded Peace Troops, Women’s Programs and Reconstruction in Afghanistan

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Associated Press 4/26/03; Washington Post 4/28/03; LA Times 4/28/03; Voice of America 4/17/03; Reuters 4/27/03

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