The Feminist Majority has received reports indicating that five women will attend the United Nations sponsored meeting of Afghan factions in Bonn, Germany tomorrow to discuss the political future of Afghanistan. Two women are going as part of the Northern Alliance delegation, two from the former king’s delegation, and one from the Cyprus group. The Peshawar Convention will also send a delegation to the meeting, but so far, no women have been included in that group. The United Nations Special Representative on Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, has encouraged all of the delegations to include women, but each group must determine their own representatives. Safi-Afzali, an Afghan woman in the Northern Alliance delegation, hopes the meeting will “permit Afghan women to find their place in the heart of society.” A total of thirty-two Afghan leaders will be in attendance in Bonn.
Women members of Congress continue to take the lead in pressing for the inclusion of women in the planning of post-Taliban Afghanistan. On Wednesday, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) sent letters to all four groups meeting in Bonn, along with an amendment to the Foreign Operations Act urging the inclusion of women in the reconstruction and in the government of Afghanistan. Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-CA), co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Women’s Issues, during the Democratic response to the President’s weekly radio address urged, “After years of being subjugated and brutally repressed, it is time for [Afghan women] to return to the level of government and participation they once enjoyed and were guaranteed by the Afghan constitution.” “We can be certain any future government of Afghanistan will not be sustainable unless all elements of Afghan society are included, especially its women, in determining a lasting settlement and political framework for the future,” said Millender-McDonald.
The United States is continuing to support the inclusion of women in the planning of post-Taliban government in Afghanistan. The Bush Administration has already announced its strong support of fully restoring Afghan women’s rights and creating a broad-based representative government that includes women.
Find out what you can do to encourage the restoration of Afghan women’s rights and their full participation in planning a new Afghan government, log on to www.HelpAfghanWomen.com.
Media Resources: Feminist Majority; Reuters, 11/24/01; Agence France-Press, 11/25/01