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ICYMI: Shaheen to CNN on Plight of Afghan Women, SIV Applicants as 1-Year Anniversary of U.S. Withdrawal Approaches

(Washington, DC) -- This week, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, spoke with CNN’s Alex Marquardt on the plight of Afghan women and vulnerable Afghan populations as the one-year anniversary of U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan approaches. On Monday, Shaheen issued a statement on the one-year anniversary of the Taliban seizing control of Afghanistan nearly twenty years after it was toppled by U.S. and coalition forces.  

Beginning with the Trump administration’s brokered agreement with the Taliban and decision to begin withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2020, Shaheen long warned of the regional and global national security challenges spurred from a lack of a U.S. and allied presence. 

In the segment, Shaheen addresses the risks to vulnerable Afghan populations, including Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) Program applicants. Shaheen is a strong proponent of improving the program, which atrophied under the previous administration. In her interview, Shaheen underscores the urgent need for reform while applauding the Biden administration for taking action to do so after years of systemic problems plaguing the process:  "It’s a broken program; it’s continued to be broken. The Biden administration made a recent announcement to help with that, to help speed up the process." Senator Shaheen historically partnered with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) on efforts to protect Afghans who risked their lives to support U.S. diplomatic efforts abroad by strengthening the Afghan SIV program. She has led bipartisan efforts in Congress to reauthorize additional Afghan SIVs. In addition, Senator Shaheen supported legislation to establish a nonpartisan, independent commission to examine every aspect of the war in Afghanistan, including the political and strategic decisions that transformed a focused military mission into a vast, nation-building campaign that became the longest war in U.S. history.

CNN 8.16.22

Senator Shaheen speaks with CNN in her Washington, DC office.

Addressing the plight of Afghan women and girls, Shaheen – who is a leader on action in the Senate to protect their rights and freedoms – added, "We’ve seen the rights of women be dramatically restricted – their ability to work, to go to school." Senator Shaheen has long expressed concern for the safety of Afghan women and girls without U.S. and allied forces, and today continues to push for action that prioritizes these vulnerable populations’ safety as the dire humanitarian crisis deepens in Afghanistan. 

Shaheen has long championed the rights of Afghan women and girls and leads Senate efforts to bolster congressional support for the human rights of women and girls 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 (R-IA) 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. 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. Earlier this month, Shaheen was part of a bipartisan group including U.S. Senators Joni Ernst, 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. 

The segment can be viewed in full on CNN and is available online here.