As Anniversary of U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan Approaches, Shaheen & Bipartisan Group of Senators Continue to Raise Plight of Afghan Women

August 05, 2022

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, was part of a bipartisan group this week, including U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), who were briefed by representatives from the U.S. State Department and USAID on the status of Afghan women and girls nearly one year since the United States withdrew from Afghanistan.

“Over the last year, we’ve tragically seen a reversal in women’s rights that many of us predicted would happen under Taliban rule. While our military mission in Afghanistan ended, our humanitarian mission continues, and that must have a focus on Afghan women and girls who are among the most vulnerable,” said Senator Shaheen. “I appreciated the Biden administration’s briefing, which was held at our request, to ensure Congress is continuously apprised of the latest information on conditions on the ground and U.S. efforts to address women’s rights and safety in order to best inform our policies and coordinated work with our partners and international coalitions. Nearly a year since U.S. withdrawal, it’s critical to continue to raise the plight of Afghan women and girls to remind the world of these courageous women and ensure they are not forgotten. I’ll continue to do everything in my power in the U.S. Senate to elevate their voices and prioritize policies that support Afghan women.”

“The update provided by the State Department and USAID was informative, but painted a grim picture of the way forward for Afghan women in the near and medium term. I fear Afghan women and girls are suffering without significant reprisal from the United States or international community,” said Senator Ernst. “I will continue working to ensure Afghan women and girls are not forgotten, and the Taliban’s abusive practices are not normalized, here or abroad.”

“Women and girls in Afghanistan have suffered setback after setback since the Taliban reasserted control in the country. I appreciate the focus that the Biden administration is putting on this issue and I support doing everything we can to help Afghanistan’s most vulnerable and oppressed, including women and girls,” said Senator Feinstein.

“Over the past two decades, Afghan women fought hard to secure fundamental rights and freedoms, and now the Taliban are sadly stripping them away,” said Senator Baldwin. “I am thankful for the Biden administration’s briefing and commitment to humanitarian support for women in Afghanistan. We must continue to elevate the strife of Afghan women, stand united against the assault on women’s rights, and work with our international partners to support a future rooted in equality for the Afghan people.”

Shaheen has long championed the rights of Afghan women and girls and has led Senate efforts to bolster Congressional support for human rights around the world. Shaheen repeatedly fought to make the inclusion of Afghan women in negotiations between the Taliban and Afghan government a U.S. foreign policy priority. Shaheen is the author of the Women, Peace and Security Act, which was signed into law in 2017 and ensures women’s leadership roles in conflict resolution and peace negotiations. She has also led bipartisan efforts to address the unique barriers young girls in developing countries face in accessing a full education. Shaheen previously led a group of Senators in condemning the Taliban’s decision to renege on its promise to open schools to Afghan girls above the sixth grade, and led a bipartisan letter to President Biden urging his administration to take action. In April, she led a bipartisan delegation visit with Senator Ernst and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) to the UN to discuss how the U.S. and international community can best support women and girls in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. Last month, Shaheen and Ernst sent a letter with Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and  Jim Risch (R-ID) to the United Nations, urging it to take measures to hold the Taliban to account for its continued abuses of Afghan women and girls’ human rights. 

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