Women’s Rights Leader Cites Need to Protect Afghan Women from Violence
Washington, DC – Speaking at a Congressional briefing today, Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority (FM), urged House members to support the expansion and immediate deployment of 25,000 more peacekeeping troops throughout Afghanistan.
“Peace and security must be established across Afghanistan to enable the restoration of women’s rights, the reconstruction of the country, and the delivery of desperately needed humanitarian assistance,” said Smeal. “In addition, we must not fool ourselves that women’s safety in Afghanistan is secure when, in some regions of the country, women continue to fear the imposition of Taliban-like restrictions by regional warlords.”
Smeal continued, “This International Women’s Day should mark the beginning of a new era of hope for Afghan women and girls. Women’s rights organizations domestically and worldwide are committed to making this a reality.”
The Feminist Majority President went on to urge the quick delivery of resources to the Afghan Interim Administration, especially the Ministry for Women’s Affairs, to carry out vital functions and deliver desperately needed services.
“We are very pleased that a building has now been given to the Ministry and that USAID is currently funding the rehabilitation of some parts of the Women’s Ministry building,” said Smeal. “However, substantial resources for the Ministry are needed if it is to adequately establish the crucial legal advocacy, education, vocational training, and women’s health programs necessary to begin to undo the devastation caused by the Taliban regime and the 23 years of unending war.”
This week, in letters to President Bush, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and Secretary of State Powell, women’s organizations, led by FM President Eleanor Smeal and the Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid Chair Mavis Leno, urged that the size of the international peacekeeping force should be increased to at least 25,000, that the force should be deployed throughout the country, that disarmament be a priority, and that the term of the deployment extend beyond 6 months. They also requested the inclusion of women in the peacekeeping force. Immediate and substantial US funding for the Afghan Interim Government and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs was also addressed.
Since 1996, the Feminist Majority has brought together more than 220 leading human rights and women’s organizations in the United States and around the world to demand the end of human rights abuses in Afghanistan and restore the rights of Afghan women and girls. The campaign’s accomplishments include helping stop the U.S. and United Nations from officially recognizing the Taliban, sending more humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, and increasing the number of Afghan refugees allowed to enter the United States.###