Congresswoman Maloney: We Must Not Abandon Afghan Women and Girls
Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, today reiterated her commitment to supporting Afghan women and girls, calling on her colleagues and the worldwide community to not abandon them in the wake of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
“For more than 20 years, Afghan women and girls fought for and won basic human rights and dignity. Now, these brave leaders are not only at risk of seeing this progress ripped away by the Taliban and ISIS-K – but their very lives are threatened because of the incredible work they accomplished. I and feminist allies all over the world are working to help them now — to get as many women’s right activists to safety as possible should they decide to leave the country.
“I am deeply concerned for the millions of Afghan women and children who are likely to suffer once again under Taliban rule, and the US withdrawing our troops does not mean that our obligation to the Afghan people ends. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting the continued work led by Afghan women to secure basic human rights under the Taliban.”
On August 19, Congresswoman Maloney sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III urging the Biden Administration to accelerate the evacuation of U.S. citizens from Afghanistan, as well as Afghan nationals who served alongside U.S. forces, political and civic leaders, and their family members, including women and girls who are at an especially acute risk of political violence and retribution by the Taliban.
In 2003, Congresswoman Maloney successfully amended the State Department reauthorization bill to urge $60 million in reconstruction funding to be spent on assistance for Afghan women and girls. In 2007, she secured $45 million per year from fiscal years 2008 through 2010 for programs that benefit Afghan women and girls as well as the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and the Afghan Ministry of Women Affairs. These funds went directly for things like medical care, education, vocational training, and legal assistance.
In 2019, Congresswoman Maloney met with Dr. Sima Samar, Chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, to discuss concerns that Afghan women and the Afghan government were being excluded from ongoing peace talks between the US and Taliban. Following this meeting, the Congresswoman sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting that he document how the United States is working to make sure that Afghan women are included in the ongoing peace talks between the US and the Taliban.
In September 2020, the Oversight and Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on National Security held a hearing examining the Trump Administration’s Afghanistan strategy with Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad. During the hearing, Congresswoman Maloney once again raised the need to protect the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan during peace negotiations with the Taliban.
During a February 2021 Oversight Subcommittee on National Security hearing, the Congresswoman shared a letter she and Subcommittee Chair Stephen Lynch received from the Afghan Government’s Chief Negotiator, along with four female diplomats on the Afghan team involved in peace negotiations. In the letter, the negotiators wrote that the Committee’s previous hearings on the Afghan peace process, “sent a strong message that there is accountability and that the women negotiators must be listened to, respected, and that the issues they speak about must be taken seriously” and that “the two hearings also gave us the assurance that we will not be alone in demanding a just and practical political settlement, one that guarantees equal rights and opportunities for all people.”
During that same hearing, General Joseph F. Dunford Jr. (Ret), Co-Chair of the Afghanistan Study Group, stated, in response to a question from the Congresswoman, “We highlighted the issue of women’s rights and values in a future Afghanistan consistent with the Constitution for two reasons. And it wasn’t just because it was the right thing to do, we actually assessed that stability and security cannot be achieved unless we have a future Afghanistan consistent with the values in the Constitution and unless women’s rights are respected.”