With both Democratic and Republican Senate leaders calling upon the Bush administration to support expansion of peacekeeping troops in Afghanistan, the Feminist Majority has stepped up an emergency call-in and e-mail campaign to provide the security necessary to promote women’s rights, democracy and reconstruction.
At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing yesterday, both Democratic and Republican leaders, including Chairman Senator Joseph Biden, ranking Republican Member Senator Richard Lugar, and Senator Barbara Boxer, the committee’s only woman member, called for US support for the expansion of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) beyond Kabul.
The Feminist Majority as well as representatives from other women’s rights groups and humanitarian aid organizations came to the hearing to express the dire need to expand ISAF for Afghan women. At the hearing, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said the Bush Administration is not opposed to expansion of peace troops. But Wolfowitz refused to commit to actions necessary to support and make possible the expansion of the mission, size, and jurisdiction of the international peace keeping force beyond Kabul.
Threats to Loya Jirga delegates who have spoken out for human rights, including outgoing Women’s Affairs Minister Dr. Sima Samar; the uprising of police against the appointed Interior Minister; violence against women in the Northern provinces; violence against humanitarian aid workers; and the use of tactics of intimidation against the return of girls to school in Kandahar show the need for expansion of peacekeeping forces both within and beyond Kabul is desperate.