The state of Afghan women and girls and the need for better US policies in Afghanistan were the focus of a community forum hosted by Ms. magazine yesterday morning. Dr. Sima Samar, chair of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and the UN Special Envoy to Sudan, offered important insight into the reality of the corruption and poverty that is being experienced in Afghanistan today, more than five years after the US first attacked in October 2001. Ms. Executive Editor Katherine Spillar — who spoke with Dr. Samar for an exclusive interview in the Winter 2007 issue — joined Dr. Samar, along with Ms. Publisher and Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal, chair of the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Campaign for Afghan Women and Girls Mavis Nicholson Leno, and Christian Delsol of the United Nations Populations Fund.
Each panelist explained the dire need for money and resources to reach Afghanistan. The US claims that its involvement in Afghanistan is a success, but clean water and electricity are still scarce for Afghan citizens, Smeal reminded the audience. She called for a differentiation in funding allocated to Afghanistan and Iraq. Currently, funding for projects in both countries are part of the same legislation, and the vast majority of US dollars goes towards fighting the war in Iraq, instead of rebuilding projects.