The Bush Administration has launched a new initiative to publicize the brutal treatment of Afghan women and girls by the Taliban regime. Events include meetings with women’s leaders, a Saturday radio address by First Lady Laura Bush, and release of a U.S. State Department report on gender apartheid by Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Pleased that the Administration is focusing attention on the suffering of women under the Taliban, feminists expressed hopes that the Administration also soon will publicly state support for the inclusion of Afghan women leaders in the planning and implementation of post-Taliban reconstruction and government. When asked about the New York Times report that “administration officials said they would not publicly insist at this point that women be included in talks about a post-Taliban coalition government. They wanted to walk a careful line between encouraging reform and imposing Western values on Islamic society,” Undersecretary of Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky in a meeting today assured women’s groups of the Administration’s commitment to the inclusion of women’s leadership in post-Taliban Afghanistan.
Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, said, “Women were members of parliament, judges and cabinet officials in Afghanistan’s past. Women’s participation in civil society is not an imposition of Western values, but rather basic human rights and a part of Afghanistan’s history.”
“The world now understands that women were the first victims of the Taliban. We now must make the world understand that women are the solution for the future of a peaceful and democratic Afghanistan,” continued Smeal.