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Feminist Majority Declares a Victory for Afghan Women

Senate Committee Approves More Funds, ISAF Expansion in Afghanistan
WASHINGTON, DC – In a bipartisan vote, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the expansion of peacekeeping troops and much-needed, additional aid to the newly installed Afghan government.

Led by Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE), the committee’s chair, and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the committee’s sole female member, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved legislation that will authorize a total of $2 billion for reconstruction over the next four years and $1 billion over the next two years for expansion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) - almost triple the amount allocated by the Afghanistan Freedom Support Act, which was approved by the House in May with a vote of 390 to 22. Senator Boxer introduced and the committee unanimously accepted an amendment that specifies programs for Afghan women as a priority for a portion of these funds with $15 million earmarked for the Ministry for Women’s Affairs and $5 million for the Human Rights Commission.

“This is an astonishing and historic victory for the women of Afghanistan,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. “A bipartisan vote indicates that these Senators have listened to the outcry of women’s groups around the country and the world. Now we are very hopeful that the Bush administration will change its policy and support this version of the legislation. In addition, we hope that with this impetus, the Bush administration will take action to fulfill its promises to Afghan women by supporting international peace troop expansion now.”

The Feminist Majority spearheaded the drive for ISAF expansion and additional funds. With the women of Afghanistan repeatedly proclaiming security as their top priority, the Feminist Majority and other women’s organizations have been asking the Bush administration to expand peacekeeping troops beyond Kabul for the past six months. A series of recent events throughout Afghanistan have shown the need for expansion of peacekeeping forces both within and beyond Kabul is urgent.

The Feminist Majority was the first US group to launch a campaign against gender apartheid in Afghanistan. For the past six years, the Feminist Majority has led a public education campaign to bring the atrocities of the Taliban to the world’s attention and to demand equality for Afghan women. For more information on the Feminist Majority visit www.feminist.org.

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