Shaheen Leads Letter to Pompeo Urging Women’s Inclusion in Peace Negotiations Between the U.S. and Taliban

February 05, 2019

**Shaheen’s Bipartisan Women, Peace and Security Act, which Bolsters the Role of Women in Peace Negotiations & Conflict Resolution Around the World, Became Law in 2017 **

(Washington, DC) –  Last night, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) sent a letter with Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, urging Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to prioritize women’s inclusion in ongoing peace negotiations between the United States and the Taliban, and to protect the United States’ investment in the rights of women and girls. In 2017, Shaheen’s bipartisan legislation – the Women, Peace and Security Act – was signed into law, bolstering the role of women in peace negotiations and conflict resolution around the world. 

The Senators wrote, “One of the significant achievements of the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan has been the dramatic improvement in the lives of women and girls, who suffered terribly under the unchecked rule of the Taliban prior to 2001. For this reason, we are concerned that the negotiations between the United States and the Taliban in Doha, and the possible withdrawal of U.S. troops to follow, may undo the considerable progress we have made on human rights, especially those of women and girls. We urge you to ensure our investment of time, resources and the lives of U.S. soldiers will not have gone to waste by ensuring that Afghan women are represented and issues central to their rights and needs are part of any negotiation going forward.” 

The Senators’ letter goes on to highlight Afghanistan’s National Action Plan, which states that Afghanistan cannot achieve equality without protecting the rights of women. Currently, women form part of President Ashraf Ghani’s negotiation team, though the Afghan government has yet to participate in the peace negotiations with the Taliban. The Senators underscore that the ongoing negotiations pose an important opportunity for the State Department to advance the Women, Peace and Security Agenda to include women in the peacebuilding process. 

In their letter, the Senators continued, “As emphasized in that law, including women in peace negotiations is not merely a symbolic gesture. According to research by the United Nations, when women have a substantive role in peace negotiations the likelihood the agreement will last beyond fifteen years increases by as much as 35 percent.”

During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing this morning, Senator Shaheen questioned U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Commander General Joseph Votel about women’s inclusion in negotiations between the United States and the Taliban. Their exchange can be viewed here. 

The Senators concluded their letter, “Ending the war in Afghanistan is a goal we all share. We urge you to make every effort to ensure that the negotiations result in an Afghan society that promotes equality and protects the rights of women and girls. After more than seventeen years, we cannot squander the sacrifices the United States has made.” 

The only woman on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Shaheen has been a fierce advocate for women and girls around the globe, including advocating on behalf of family planning and women’s global health, spearheading efforts to end violence against women, and authoring legislation to address barriers that girls around the world face in accessing education

The letter to Secretary Pompeo can be read in full here.