US House Approves Afghanistan Aid Bill with Provisions for Afghan Women and Girls
The US House of Representatives voted 406 to 10 yesterday to pass an omnibus bill that will provide security and economic assistance to Afghanistan and will limit funds given to warlords in high-level offices. The bill includes the major provisions of the Afghan Women's Empowerment Act, including the authorization for three years of $5 million for the Afghan Ministry for Women's Affairs, $10 million for the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, and $30 million for Afghan-led non-governmental organizations that are providing assistance to Afghan women and girls.
Norma Gattsek, director of government relations and global programs at the Feminist Majority, said of the House's vote, "This bill finally recognizes the dire conditions for Afghan women and girls, who are under constant attack by fundamentalists who want to deprive them of their rights. The Feminist Majority has worked long and hard to pass legislation to address their critical needs and to increase humanitarian and reconstruction assistance for Afghanistan, of which so much was promised and so little has been given."
The bill authorizes a $6.4 billion aid package with measures aimed to decrease the flow of money to corrupt government officials and drug lords. The White House has already expressed discontent, saying that these measures will set "an unrealistically high bar" and will limit the president's power to act in Afghanistan, the AP reports. A companion bill in the Senate is expected to be introduced soon.