Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation joined Women for Afghan Women in a press conference, on the same day President Obama is announcing the new US policies for Afghanistan and Pakistan, to keep in focus the plight of Afghan women and girls.
In a statement, Smeal said, "We must not forget the horrific human rights abuses toward women and girls that have been and are being committed by the Taliban. In the past several years, hundreds of girls' schools have been destroyed. Teachers have been murdered - some right in front of their students. Girls are being attacked with acid thrown in their faces on their way to or from school. Atrocities are regularly committed by Taliban forces against women. And we cannot forget, when Afghanistan was ruled by the Taliban, women and girls were not allowed to be educated, employed, go outside their homes without the company of a close male relative, go to a male doctor (female doctors were forbidden to work), or go to a hospital. Girl babies were even forbidden treatment by male doctors. Women were beaten and killed for violations of intolerable restrictions."
President Obama announced in March a comprehensive new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan that will provide not only military assistance, but also "a greater civilian commitment to the Afghan people." He pledged we will "support the basic human rights of all Afghans - including women and girls."
Smeal also said, "We believe for any campaign to bring lasting peace to Afghanistan humanitarian and development programs of education, health care, and employment, especially for women and girls, who compose the majority of Afghans, are essential...We believe that the new strategy about to be announced must increase the humanitarian and development programs for Afghanistan. To establish the conditions for a lasting peace, Afghanistan must be rebuilt and the basic building blocs of a civil society must be restored. President Bush promised a Marshall Plan for Afghanistan. In the long run, rebuilding Afghanistan is not only the moral solution, but also the more economical solution."