Legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) to help Afghan women and girls passed the Senate Tuesday. The Afghan Women and Girls Security Promotion Act would require the Department of Defense to produce a plan to promote the security of Afghan women and girls during the process of transferring security responsibility to Afghan forces.
"Making women's security a priority during the transition period will go a long way toward achieving our overall goal of a secure and stable Afghanistan," said Senator Casey. "Afghan women have made enormous progress since 2001 and they want to keep fighting for their rights and a seat at the table in making plans for Afghanistan's future. We can't afford for them to lose ground during the transition of security responsibility to the Afghan forces."
"Afghanistan will never advance as a nation if it continues to oppress half its population," said Senator Hutchison. "Last week's brutal murder of a 14 year old girl shows why it is extremely important that we do all we can to protect the rights and safety of women and girls in that country. The efforts of the United States - which came at great cost to our military men and women - can only be deemed successful if the education and rights of women are promoted. This is essential to the long term stability of the country."
The legislation would require a three-part plan to promote the security of Afghan women and girls by monitoring and responding to changes in women's security, improving gender sensitivity and responsiveness among Afghan National Security personnel, and increasing the recruitment and retention of women in the Afghan National Security Forces.
Several advocacy organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Women for Afghan Women, have voiced their support of the legislation in a group letter, available here.
"As the United States military transitions out of Afghanistan, Afghan women's human rights continue to be at grave risk and demand urgent attention," said Suzanne Nossel, executive director, Amnesty International USA. "The fate of women will be a crucial determinant of that country's prospects for a stable and prosperous future. We applaud Senator Casey and Senator Hutchison for demonstrating remarkable leadership to ensure that the U.S. does its part to empower women and ensure that their security needs are a priority."
Senator Casey and Senator Hutchison's legislation has been co-sponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Coons (D-DE), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Lisa Murkowski (I-AK), Olympia Snowe (R-ME).