Washington, DC—The Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) has delivered a letter co-signed by 85 women and human rights activists, leaders, and organizations to President Biden and Vice President Harris asking that they swiftly act to protect the women and girls of Afghanistan whose lives are now at risk as the Taliban takes control of the country.
The letter states: “[W]e implore your administration not to agree to a deal that includes recognition and support of a Taliban regime. The U.S. and U.N. previously refused to recognize the Taliban based on their brutal disregard of human rights, especially of women and girls. Any deal by the United States that would include recognition and support of the Taliban regime would be a reversal of U.S. commitments that were made to the Afghan people, especially women and girls, and would undermine commitments by the U.S and your administration to human rights globally and the Women, Peace and Security Act of 2017.
“Further, we implore you to take immediate action to save the lives of Afghan women’s rights and human rights leaders and advocates who have selflessly and courageously worked at great risk to advance the rights of women and girls and are now being targeted by the Taliban. We ask for the evacuation of these leaders and Afghan women students who have secured commitments at universities here to pursue their education. Safe passage to the United States must be provided immediately.”
Ellie Smeal, president of the FMF, issued the following statement: “The United States must not abandon Afghan women and girls. The United States cannot recognize a regime that has taken away basic human rights from women and girls and has shown with their current behavior that they plan to continue these brutal tactics. Feminist and Human Rights leaders implore President Biden and Vice President Harris to prioritize the evacuation of Afghan women leaders and activists, as well as human rights defenders whose lives are at risk as the Taliban takes control of Afghanistan. The Taliban is going to the homes of women’s leaders, and we fear they are being targeted for reprisal. The United States cannot abandon them when their lives are at stake.
The time to act is now: women’s rights activists and journalists have been murdered, women and girls are being forced into sexual slavery with Taliban soldiers, and women and girls are forced to stay in their homes and punished for cell phone use. Hundreds of thousands of Afghan citizens, including children, are attempting to flee during a historic drought, the Coronavirus pandemic, and widespread hunger. The United States must prioritize the plight of Afghan women and girls and provide humanitarian aid immediately.”
Alongside FMF president Ellie Smeal, signatories of the letter include famed activist and labor organizer Dolores Huerta, Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Cecile Richards, co-founder of Supermajority and former president of Planned Parenthood, Carol Jenkins, president of the ERA Coalition, feminist activist Gloria Steinem, Christian Nunes, president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), Marcela Howell, president & CEO of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, former senator Russ Feingold, Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, Barbara Arnwine, president of the Transformative Justice Coalition, E. Faye Williams, PhD, president of the National Congress of Black Women.
The letter and full list of signatories can be found here.