Several Afghan women spoke yesterday on Capitol Hill at the Forum on the Future of Women in Afghanistan about the need for women to participate in the reconstruction process within Afghanistan once the Taliban has collapsed. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) hosted the forum, which was also attended by Feminist Majority leaders as well as Senators Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) and Susan Collins (R-ME), and once again pledged her support for restoring Afghan women’s rights and political voice by giving women leadership roles in forging and participating in a new Afghan government. Clinton also addressed concerns that that U.S. would be promoting “cultural imperialism” by working to secure women’s rights in Afghanistan. The Senator stated unequivocally that, “We want to ensure that the women of Afghanistan have the opportunity to define their own future – and not to have it defined for them by us, or by men who want to oppress them.”
While praising Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Harry Reid (D-NV), Chris Dodd (D-CT), and Sam Brownback (R-KS) for their work for Afghan women, Clinton called on the Senate to pass legislation addressing women and the restoration of democracy in Afghanistan and urged the United States to aid the reconstruction process. “Now, we have a choice: we can help to sow the seeds of peace, freedom, and security in Afghanistan. Or we can step back and allow the seeds of lawlessness, repression, and instability to be sown by others.”
Afghan women have been participating in the United Nations talks on Afghanistan in Bonn and will convene next week in Brussels for the Afghan Women’s Summit for Democracy, hosted by a number of women’s rights organizations, including the Feminist Majority. To learn more about the Feminist Majority’s Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan and to take action, log on to www.HelpAfghanWomen.com.