Shaheen Responds to Secretary Pompeo’s Refusal to Prioritize the Inclusion of Afghan Women in Peace Talks Between the U.S. & Taliban

April 10, 2019

**During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing, Shaheen – the Only Woman on the Committee –  Repeatedly Asked Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo to Commit to Prioritizing Afghan Women’s Inclusion in Peace Negotiations in Afghanistan** 

**Senator Shaheen Authored the Women, Peace and Security Act, a Law that Requires the Administration to Prioritize Women’s Involvement in Conflict Resolution**

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the only woman on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the highest ranking woman on the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement in response to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s refusal to commit to prioritizing Afghan women’s inclusion in peace negotiations in Afghanistan between the United States and the Taliban.

Shaheen wrote the law that bolsters women’s roles in peace negotiations and conflict resolution around the world. In February, Shaheen led a letter to Secretary Pompeo, urging the administration to prioritize Afghan women’s inclusion in peace negotiations between the United States and the Taliban in Afghanistan, and to protect the United States’ investment in the rights of women and girls. 

“Secretary Pompeo’s refusal to commit to including Afghan women in U.S.-led negotiations with the Taliban is both a moral and foreign policy failure for this administration,” said Shaheen. “These women have earned the right to shape their country and the laws they will live under. The Secretary’s assertion that it is somehow up to Afghan women to let themselves into a negotiation controlled by the U.S. and the Taliban is nonsensical and ignorant of the extreme abuses that Afghan women once suffered under Taliban rule. I urge Secretary Pompeo and the Trump administration to uphold the United States’ clear commitment to including women in peace negotiations, as mandated by the Women, Peace and Security Act, in Afghanistan.”

Earlier this year, Pashtana Durrani, who runs the Afghan women’s rights nonprofit organization LearnAfg, spoke with Al Jazeera about the importance of women’s role in peace talks and warned about the dangers of women living under Taliban rule:

“…She said when the Taliban were removed from power, steps were taken to ensure women's rights. 

"Girls could go to schools, women could go to doctors and most importantly have a voice and vote," she said.

"This peace deal will decide the future of Afghan women and their position in leadership in politics, in schools, and everywhere … it's half of the population.

"A peace deal is supposed to be inclusive and open to women rights, meaning they are non-negotiable. Women of Afghanistan can decide for themselves and some men on a table, an exclusive group, cannot decide a half the population's fate."

Durrani said if US troops leave, "we might repeat history where women will be beaten, shot in the heads, and their noses cut. Where women will be treated as second class citizens, just because they are women."

Watch Shaheen’s exchange with Secretary Pompeo in full here.