U.S. Must Not Abandon Afghan Women

Dear President Biden and Vice President Harris,

We are heartbroken by the devastating news coming out of Afghanistan about Taliban’s advances and are writing to you with our plea for your administration to take actions to protect Afghan women and girls and to address this unfolding human rights and humanitarian catastrophe.

As you have stated, America went to Afghanistan 20 years ago to defeat the forces that attacked the U.S. on September 11th. But we also made commitments. Twenty years ago, the United States made promises to the women and girls of Afghanistan. The contributions of literally billions of dollars the U.S. and NATO countries in support of the work of Afghan women’s rights and human rights leaders led to increases in education and opportunities for Afghan women and girls, increases in representation of Afghan women in government and all sectors of society, improvements in civil liberties and civil rights, and decreases in maternal and infant mortality.

All of these gains – and the very lives and futures of Afghan women and girls – are now in grave jeopardy. As the Taliban has taken over territories, they have committed war crimes and engaged in the same brutal tactics that marked their rule before they were removed from power. We have heard reports in the media and directly from our colleagues in Afghanistan that women’s rights and human rights activists and journalists have been assassinated; girls’ schools have been closed; women and girls are being forced to marry Taliban soldiers in what amounts to sexual slavery; and women and girls are being forced to stay in their homes and punished even for using cell phones. Hundreds of thousands of Afghans have been internally displaced and are attempting to flee to Kabul and neighboring countries in the midst of an historic drought, raging coronavirus pandemic and widespread hunger. The situation of internally displaced women who are fleeing with their children, who comprise 80% of IDPs, is especially dire.

This is why we implore your administration not to agree to a deal that includes recognition and support of a Taliban regime. The U.S. and U.N. previously refused to recognize the Taliban based on their brutal disregard of human rights, especially of women and girls. Any deal by the United States that would include recognition and support of the Taliban regime would be a reversal of U.S. commitments that were made to the Afghan people, especially women and girls, and would undermine commitments by the U.S and your administration to human rights globally and the Women, Peace and Security Act of 2017.

Further, we implore you to take immediate action to save the lives of Afghan women’s rights and human rights leaders and advocates who have selflessly and courageously worked at great risk to advance the rights of women and girls and are now being targeted by the Taliban. We ask for the evacuation of these leaders and Afghan women students who have secured commitments at universities here to pursue their education. Safe passage to the United States must be provided immediately.

Your administration, President Biden, has accomplished much for women and girls in the United States over the past seven months, and you have achieved an extraordinary record in the Senate and as Vice President in combating violence against women. And Vice President Kamala Harris has worked over many years for women’s rights, especially women of color. That is why we are appealing to you to fulfill the promises made to protect human rights globally, especially Afghan women and girls whose lives and futures are now in peril.

We respectfully await your response to our urgent requests.

Eleanor Smeal, President
Feminist Majority Foundation                 

Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Former U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues and Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace & Security
Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security                                    

Dolores Huerta, President
Dolores Huerta Foundation                     

Gloria Steinem, Founder
Women’s Media Center

Cecile Richards, Co-founder

Christian Nunes, President           
National Organization for Women                                  

Carol Jenkins, President and CEO
ERA Coalition

Deborah Rosenbloom, Chief Program Officer
Jewish Women International

Russ Feingold, former US Senator, Wisconsin

Debra Ness, President
National Partnership for Women & Families

Stephanie Sinclair, Founding Executive Director
Too Young to Wed

Mavis Nicholson Leno

Susan O’Malley, UN Representative
International Federation of Business and Professional Women

Joi Chaney, Executive Director, Washington Bureau & SVP for Policy and Advocacy
National Urban League

Donna Norton, Executive Vice President

Marcela Howell, President & CEO
In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda

Barbara Arnwine, president
Transformative Justice Coalition

Monica Ramirez, Founder & President
Justice for Migrant Women

Leng Leng Chancey, Executive Director

Marissa Conway, Co-Founder & UK Executive Director
Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy

Houry Geudelekian, Chair
NGO Committee on the Status of Women

Elsa Marie DSilva, Founder
Red Dot Foundation

Gillian D’Souza Nazareth, Director Global Partnerships
Red Dot Foundation

Tim Isgitt, Managing Director
Humanity United

Jordan Brooks, Executive Director
United State of Women

Donna Lentz, president
National Women’s Political Caucus

E. Faye Williams, PhD, President
National Congress of Black Women

Jody Rabhan, Chief Policy Officer 
National Council of Jewish Women

Stacey Schamber, Senior Program Officer
International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)

Ellen Friedman, Executive Director
Compton Foundation

Emilie Cortes, Treasurer
Compton Foundation

Susan Saltz, Board Member
Jewish World Watch

Saru Jayaraman, President
One Fair Wage

Rebecca Dennis, Sr. Legislative Policy Analyst 

Johna Hoey, Interim Executive Director
Peace is Loud

Paige Logan, Policy Advisor

Shaunna Thomas, Executive Director

Erin Vilardi, CEO
Vote Run Lead

Maria Fornella, UN Representative, NY
Soroptimist International

Katherine Spillar, Executive Director
Feminist Majority Foundation

Kathy Bonk, Strategic Consultant
Feminist Majority Foundation     

Ashley Steimer-King, Program Director
Girls Learn International

Patricia Cooper, Founder
Womens Regional Network: Afghanistan, Pakistan and India

Farah Tanis, Co-Executive Director
Black Women’s Blueprint

Stacie Murphy, Director of Congressional Relations
Population Connection Action Fund

Rebecca Obrock, Director of Program Development & Policy Advocacy
Heartland Alliance International

Shenee Simon, Founder
S.H.E. Collective, LLC

Carol Cohn, Director
Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights

Catherine Bosshart
BPW International  

Olivia Garcia, Public Policy Manager
Esperanza United (formerly Casa de Esperanza: National Latina Network)

Jin In, Founder
4Girls GLocal Leadership (4GGL)

Joanne Smith, CEO
Girls for Gender Equity

RoseMarie FitzSimons, Founder
Anam Films

Vanessa Hope, Filmmaker
Double Hope Films

Gini Reticker, Director/Producer
Independent Films

Dani Ayers, CEO
MeToo International

Lauren Strogoff, Journalist
Chivo, Inc

Julie Grau, CO-CEO
Spiegel & Grau Publishers

Laura Dawn Murphy, Founder & Chief Creative

Ernestine LALAO, Advocacy
Congrégation of Our Lady of Charity of Good Shepherd

Alexis Schutz, Assistant
NGO Representative to the United Nations
Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd

Winifred Doherty
Good Shepherd International Justice Peace Office

Alice Marie Giordano, JPIC Coordinator
Ursulines of the Roman Union – Eastern Province

Bonnie Abaunza, Founder
Abaunza Group

Annemarie O’Connor, UN Representative
Passionists International

Beatriz Vieira, Interim CEO
Women’s Foundation California

Shirley Graham, PhD
Gender Equality Initiative Elliott School of International Affairs

Valerie Hudson, PhD
The WomanStats Project

Robert Nagel, PhD
The WomanStats Project

Michele Goodwin, Chancellor’s Professor
University of California, Irvine

Kimberly S. Adams, PhD, Professor of Political Science
East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania

Jennifer Haythe, Associate Professor of Medicine
Columbia Univeristy

Mary Caprioli
University of Minnesota Duluth

Alison Brysk, Mellichamp Professor of Global Governance
University of California Santa Barbara

Donna Lee Bowen, Professor Emerita, Department of Political Science
Brigham Young University

Emily Bent, Associate Professor
Women’s & Gender Studies, Pace University

Rose McDermott, University Professor
Brown University

Lynne Nielsen, Professor
Brigham Young University

Natalie Romeri-Lewis, International Consultant
Ohio State University

Valentine Moghadam, Professor of Sociology and International Affairs
Northeastern University

Arie Thompson, President
Sunlion Performance LLC

Jill Goldman

Larissa Peltola        

Caroline Themm     

Gina Goldman

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