For Immediate Release

March 27, 2009

FMF and Sima Samar Announce New Campaign for Afghan Women and Girls

Doctor Sima Samar and Eleanor Smeal discussed the human rights conditions in Afghanistan and announced a new campaign for Afghan Women and Girls in a press conference today (C-SPAN covered the press conference live and will replay it). Dr. Sima Samar, chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, warned that Afghan human rights and women and girls cannot be forgotten in any successful campaign to stabilize Afghanistan and end terrorism.

In a press release, Dr. Samar said “Afghan women and girls want education. Many risk their lives to go to school. People want accountability, transparency in the flow of aid to Afghanistan, and justice – not impunity and support for those who violate human rights. Human rights are not a western concept, but universal and necessary for all human beings.”

Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, today also announced the launching of a new campaign, chaired by Mavis Leno and supported by many women’s organizations, leaders and celebrities to help Afghan women and girls and to ensure they will not be forgotten. Smeal said that “We warned in 1998, and over and over again ever since, the women and girls in Afghanistan are the canaries in the mine. We cannot forget them if we are ever to gain peace and global stability. The United States has a new opportunity to change direction in Afghanistan – we believe that this time, with the leadership of President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, women and girls will not be left on the periphery, but placed in the central focus of our new policy. We are determined to galvanize the public will and support to help make this happen.”

President Obama also announced this morning a new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Among his remarks, Obama said “For the Afghan people, a return to Taliban rule would condemn their country to brutal governance, international isolation, a paralyzed economy, and the denial of basic human rights to the Afghan people – especially women and girls.” Obama also pledged to – continue to support the basic human rights of all Afghans – including women and girls.”


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