Women. Power. Peace.

Gains for Women and Peace in Afghanistan

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Last Thursday marked an important step towards an end to the war in Afghanistan, while recognizing that lasting peace will only be achieved when the meaningful engagement and protection of Afghan women and girls is secured. The Senate passed amendments to the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act,  With unanimous support Senators Robert Casey’s (D-PA) and Kay Bailey Hutchison’s (R-TX) Afghan Women and Girls Security Promotion Act was adopted. An amendment led by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY) that calls for an accelerated transition and withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan was adopted 62-33.

Receiving undisputed backing in the U.S. Senate, the Afghan Women and Girls Security Promotion Act, (S. 3646, is an essential part of efforts to secure the long-term protection of women’s human rights in Afghanistan, and to ensure sustainable peace of all Afghans. As stated in the Letter of Support sent to bill co-sponsors Casey and Hutchison, “If enacted, the Act would require the Department of Defense to develop a three-part strategy to promote and support the security of Afghan women and girls during and after the security transition process.”

Recognizing its commitments under the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (NAP) that “the engagement and protection of women as agents of peace and stability will be central to the United States efforts to promote security, the Act states “addressing the security vulnerabilities of Afghan women and girls during the period of security transition is an essential step toward long-term stability. Cosponsors to the measure include Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Coons (D-DE), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Lisa Murkowski (I-AK), and Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

We are also celebrating an overwhelming positive vote (62-33) approving Senator Jeff Merkley’s and Senator Rand Paul’s non-binding amendment calling for an accelerated end to the war and expedited transition of governance responsibility to the Afghan government by mid-2013, a full eighteen months before the current proposed full transition date of December 2014. While this amendment will certainly face pushback from the House Armed Services Committee Republican leadership, and the Pentagon is likely to push the Obama Administration to maintain a security presence in Afghanistan much longer than proposed, the 62-33 Senate vote is a strong statement that it truly is time for this endless war to end.

The two amendments combined reflect WAND’s long standing position that drawdown of U.S. security forces must be tied to a commitment to ensure the empowerment and protection of Afghan women.

 -Tanya Henderson, Public Policy Director

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