PROPOSING A LONG-TERM U.S. COMMITMENT TO AFGHAN WOMEN
WASHINGTON, DC - The bipartisan “Afghan Women Security and Freedom Act of 2004” (HR 4117), which would authorize $300 million each year from FY2005 through FY2007 for programs in Afghanistan that benefit women and girls, was introduced in Congress today by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), along with Reps. Tom Davis (R-VA), and Corrine Brown (D-FL). A long-oppressed group, Afghan women gained their freedom when the tyrannical Taliban regime was removed, but they have been subject to serious cases of abuse, intimidation and discrimination in the unsettled post-war Afghanistan.
The proposed funding would be directed toward enforcing provisions of the Afghan constitution pertaining to women’s rights, legal assistance for women, encouraging the registration of women voters, education of women and girls and providing equipment to reduce infant and maternal mortality, among other provisions. This legislation has been introduced in the Senate (S. 2032) by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA).
“Although the new Afghan constitution guarantees gender equality, Afghan women continue to face difficult challenges throughout the country. That includes serious instances of abuse and discrimination, as well as a lack of education, job training and health care," Maloney said. "While there have been some improvements since the fall of the Taliban, the future of the women and girls in Afghanistan remains very uncertain, and we need to do more to ensure the progress of Afghan women.
“This legislation reaffirms America’s commitment to improving the lives of the Afghan people and cementing a future free of oppression.”
Maloney has been fighting for the rights of Afghan women since the oppressive Taliban regime. Last year, Afghan women got significant assistance when Maloney’s amendment to the State Department authorization bill (H.R. 1950) was inserted into the bill. The provision, cosponsored by Rep. Tom Lantos (CA-12), will set forth guidelines for Afghan women to gain involvement in the rebuilding of Afghanistan – an undertaking that will fundamentally shape the country’s future. The measure will establish an Afghan Women’s Fund at $22.5 million per year to provide the underserved women of Afghanistan with greater protection and educational, economic and health care opportunities. The amendment stipulates that at least 15 percent of the of the Fund will go to organizations run by Afghans, particularly women. These organizations will be vital in the rebuilding of Afghanistan and will give women a prime position in helping shape the country.
On November 6, 2003, an amendment sponsored by Maloney was included in the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill that outlines much needed assistance for Afghan women and girls. The Maloney amendment, offered with Reps. Henry Hyde (IL-06), Tom Lantos (CA-12), and Judy Biggert (IL-13), urges $60 million of the reconstruction aid for Afghanistan go to programs that benefit Afghan women and girls. The amendment also directs $5 million to go to the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission to combat human rights abuses.