Shaheen, Hassan Join All Women Senators in Bipartisan Letter to President: Protect Afghan Women and Girls

November 04, 2021

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and all other 22 women Senators in a bipartisan letter to President Joe Biden calling on him to protect the rights of Afghan women and girls following the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

In a letter to the President, they wrote, “In the wake of the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, we write to urge your Administration to develop an interagency plan to preserve the political, economic, social, and basic human rights of Afghan women and girls.”

They continued, “Last year an estimated 3.5 million girls were in school, with 100,000 women enrolled in public and private universities. Women also began to succeed in business and government…However, lacking a legitimate Afghan government and military forces to protect them, women and girls are now suffering the predations of a Taliban regime with a track record of brutalizing, isolating, and denying them life and liberty.”

“You have committed to press the Taliban to uphold the rights of women and girls, and you have stated that America will maintain an enduring partnership with the people of Afghanistan resisting Taliban rule. We will advise, support, and enable those efforts through legislation and engagement with your Administration. Afghan women and girls need our action now,” they concluded.

To read the full letter, click here.

Shaheen has long expressed deep concerns about the United States’ unconditioned withdrawal from Afghanistan, particularly out of concern for the immediate danger facing Afghan women and other groups vulnerable to the Taliban’s violence and oppression. Senator Shaheen repeatedly fought to make the inclusion of Afghan women in negotiations between the Taliban and Afghan government a U.S. foreign policy priority. Earlier this year, Senator Shaheen met virtually with women members of Afghanistan’s Parliament to discuss the rights and futures of women and girls in Afghanistan. Shaheen also raised her concerns about the safety of women and girls with Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, former Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, during a Senate Foreign Relations hearing. During a congressional delegation visit to Afghanistan in 2019, Shaheen met with a group of Afghan women who described how dramatically their lives had improved since the Taliban government was toppled nearly two decades ago. Shaheen is the author of the Women, Peace and Security Actwhich was signed into law in 2017 and ensures women’s leadership roles in conflict resolution and peace negotiations. She recently partnered with humanitarian and filmmaker Angelina Jolie on an op-ed in the Washington Post calling for a meaningful and comprehensive strategy to address the safety and security of women and girls in Afghanistan. Shaheen also participated in a live virtual discussion hosted by The Washington Post to discuss the future of Afghan women and girls.

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