Shaheen on the Senate Floor: “The women and girls of Afghanistan are watching what we do and we can’t afford to let them down.”

May 13, 2021

floor speech afghan women

Shaheen speaks on the Senate floor about the urgent need for the U.S. to prioritize the rights of Afghan women and girls amid troop withdrawal. 

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH),?the only woman and a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, delivered remarks on the Senate floor today about the urgent need for the United States to prioritize the rights and freedoms of Afghan women and girls amid U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. Shaheen has been a fierce advocate for Afghan women and girls, particularly in light of the President’s announcement last month to remove U.S. forces by September 11, 2021. 

Shaheen said, “The lack of emphasis on the safety and security of Afghan women and girls in the peace process is what brought us to this point. We are leaving by September and there is no plan to ensure that the rights we achieved for women and girls are actually protected…” 

Referencing her legislation that was signed into law in 2017 that stipulates the United States has a responsibility to ensure that women are at the negotiating table in areas of conflict, like Afghanistan, Shaheen urged the need for women’s inclusion in building a future for Afghanistan. 

Shaheen underscored the urgent need for the U.S. to develop a strategy to preserve the gains made on women’s rights and to protect women and girls in Afghanistan, as well as other vulnerable groups, from the Taliban. Senator Shaheen’s remarks come on the heels of a devastating bombing in Kabul last week outside of a girls’ high school that killed 85. It also closely follows the release of a new report, which Shaheen worked to declassify, that portends poorly for the fate of Afghan women following the withdrawal of U.S. troops. 

Shaheen continued, “This is the future that we risk if we don’t have a plan for how we’re going to continue to support the women and girls of Afghanistan.” 

Watch Shaheen’s floor remarks in full here. 

Senator Shaheen partnered with humanitarian and filmmaker Angelina Jolie this week 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 as the U.S. draws down its presence. Read that here. 

Last week, Shaheen met virtually with women members of Afghanistan’s Parliament to discuss the rights and futures of women and girls in Afghanistan. Shaheen recently raised these issues with Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. 

Senator Shaheen has repeatedly fought to make the inclusion of Afghan women in ongoing negotiations a U.S. foreign policy priority, and?on?CNN last week,?reiterated her concerns about the future of Afghan women. She has repeatedly raised these concerns with Secretary of State Blinken. 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 2 decades ago.