Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal Emphasizes Important Role Women Will Play in Rebuilding Afghanistan
WASHINGTON, DC–Six delegates from the Afghan Women’s Summit, held in Brussels, Belgium December 4-5, along with Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal, met with members of the U.S. House and Senate today, as well as State Department officials, to garner support for the Brussels Proclamation, the Summit’s plan for Afghan reconstruction.
Eleanor Smeal, whose campaign to “Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan” has led the fight to restore the rights of Afghan women since 1996, was heartened by the meetings and emphasized the important role Afghan women will play in the rebuilding of their war-torn country.
“Without women’s participation and leadership, reconstructing a civil society in Afghanistan is not possible,” said Smeal. “Afghan women have already demonstrated an excellent ability to establish, run, and execute vital humanitarian services inside and outside Afghanistan that will be instrumental to rebuilding the country’s democracy.”
However, Smeal noted that without adequate funding Afghan women stood little chance of maximizing their fullest contribution to Afghan society.
“There must be a massive infusion of aid into Afghanistan if the Brussels Proclamation is ever to be realized,” noted Smeal. “President Bush has just signed the Afghan Women and Children Relief Act, which authorizes him to release humanitarian funds on behalf of Afghan women and children. We urge the Administration to now utilize that authorization and put significant funds towards Afghan women non-governmental organizations, many of which are best positioned to offer vitally needed services.”
As part of the visit, Afghan delegates and Smeal, hosted by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Sam Brownback (R-KS), presented the Proclamation to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and attended a lunch meeting with other members of the Senate, hosted by Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD). Delegates also conducted briefings with several members of the House and State Department in which they discussed the Proclamation’s four central components: education and culture, healthcare, refugees, and human rights.###