Maloney: U.S. Must Continue to Support Afghan Women and Girls in Peace Negotiations

Feb 19, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – At today’s Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on National Security hearing entitled, “A Pathway for Peace in Afghanistan: Examining the Findings and Recommendations of the Afghanistan Study Group,” Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform and lead House sponsor of the Equal Rights Amendment, emphasized the need for the United States to continue to support Afghan women and girls in the Afghanistan peace negotiations.

During the 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.”

The Congresswoman went on to ask Nancy Lindborg, Co-Chair of the Afghanistan Study Group, “Do you think public messaging from Washington—including during Congressional hearings—sends a strong signal to the Taliban that the U.S. expects them to respect and protect the rights of Afghan women and girls?”

Co-Chair Lindborg replied, “I think the letter underscores both the extraordinary progress of the Afghan women over the last several decades and the important role that they are playing now. And absolutely, I think it’s important for there to be continued signals and expressions of support for preserving those gains and also for ensuring that they have a voice at the negotiating table. We know from research that having a voice at the table makes a difference in creating a more lasting and durable peace agreement.”

Congresswoman Maloney later asked General Joseph F. Dunford Jr. (Ret), Co-Chair of the Afghanistan Study Group, “What impact would [the roll back of the rights of women and girls] ultimately have on the future security and stability of Afghanistan? And what is the best way for the U.S. to continue to insist that women’s and girl’s rights must be respected in any agreement?”

General Dunford replied, “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.”

He added, “This is why we believe that our facilitation of the Afghan peace negotiations and subsequent support for any peace settlement and implementation is so critical because I think that the United States, both with regard to resources and influence, can assist the Afghan government in forming a future government where the character actually does respect women and again those values memorialized in the Constitution.” 

In closing, Congresswoman Maloney remarked, “We have seen again and again that women’s participation in resolving conflict is essential to sustainable peace. It is critically important that we in the United States continue to support the women and girls of Afghanistan and around the world.”

You can watch the Congresswoman’s full exchange with the witnesses at today’s hearing here.