To secure more funds for Afghanistan’s reconstruction overall and particularly for Afghan women, women members of the House and Senate pressed for several amendments to the emergency supplemental appropriations bill for Afghanistan and Iraq last week.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) won passage of an amendment that designates that $60 million of Afghanistan reconstruction funds be devoted to programs for women and girls and that another $5 million be appropriated for the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. Decrying the more than 30 violent attacks on girls’ schools in Afghanistan, Maloney said, “Without human rights, the Afghan project and the efforts to create a constitution are seriously threatened. If we are to succeed in Afghanistan, these issues must be addressed.” Having secured support from both Republican and Democratic leaders, Maloney’s amendment passed on a voice vote.
Because of the efforts of Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Maloney’s amendment now will be a part of the final appropriations package. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), along with Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY), had filed an amendment increasing Afghanistan reconstruction funds to include $10 million for the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and $25 million for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs as well as funds for human rights and women’s rights in Iraq. Rather than introducing her own amendment during the final hours of Senate debate on the appropriations package, Murray received a commitment that the Maloney amendment would be kept in conference assuring that at least some funds would be devoted to Afghan women’s programs and to the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission.
In the House, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) introduced an amendment that would have moved $300 million from the $2.1 billion fund for Iraq oil into programs for women’s rights and human rights in Iraq and Afghanistan. The amendment would have added $70 million more to Afghanistan reconstruction funds. In her remarks, Jackson Lee expressed her deep concern over the disparities between the $20 billion reconstruction plan for Iraq and the only $800 billion requested by the Bush Administration for Afghanistan. Said Jackson Lee, “we continue to shortchange Afghanistan’s reconstruction and security at the peril of jeopardizing the rights of Afghan women and girls and hopes for a peaceful, democratic Afghanistan.” Jackson-Lee’s amendment failed by 156-271 votes.
All three amendments would have appropriated funds previously authorized by the Afghan Freedom Support Act of 2002. Last year, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) successfully amended the Afghan Freedom Support Act to include funding for women’s programs and designated earmarked funds for the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. Without this authorization, these amendments to improve funding for Afghan women’s programs would not have been allowed on the floor.
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