Delivering the keynote address at the National Council of Women’s Organizations’ Women’s Equality Summit and Action Day, Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal called for a national women’s campaign in support of peace troop expansion and more U.S. resources for Afghanistan’s reconstruction. “Peace and security must be established across Afghanistan to enable the restoration of women’s rights, the reconstruction of the country, and the establishment of democracy,” said Smeal. “In addition, we must not fool ourselves that women’s safety in Afghanistan is secure when women continue to fear violence and the imposition of Taliban-like restrictions by regional warlords.”
The Bush Administration has rejected pleas from the United Nations and Afghan Interim Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai to permit an expansion of the 4,800 international peacekeeping troops beyond Kabul. UN and Afghan officials believe that the immediate expansion of international peace troops is absolutely essential to disarmament, de-escalation of conflicts among warlords, preservation of women’s rights and human rights, delivery of humanitarian assistance, and the success of the loya jirga process that will determine the next stage of the transition government.
Asking, “Where has the American spirit gone?” Smeal also urged the quick delivery of desperately needed resources to the Afghan Interim Administration, especially the Ministry for Women’s Affairs. Although the Women’s Ministry has received pledges of support from around the world, it has received very little in actual funds to begin the crucial legal advocacy, education, vocational training, and women’s health programs necessary to begin to undo the devastation caused by the Taliban regime and the 23 years of unending war.