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Ms. EDWARDS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the Davis Motion to Instruct Conferees that would include the Casey/Hutchison amendment in the final conference report on the NDAA bill.
I want to thank the gentlelady from California, Mrs. Davis, for her strong leadership in engaging the women of Afghanistan in their reconstruction. I first traveled to Afghanistan with Mrs. Davis for Mother's Day in 2009 and have returned each of the past three years.
As co-chair of the Afghan Women's Task Force, I have met with women parliamentarians and civil society members eager to achieve the common goal of a secure and stable Afghanistan.
These women and their advocates always raise security as the number one challenge to progress. The failure to ensure consideration of women in the security framework is an ongoing challenge to taking advantage of the opportunities in education, politics, and overall public life necessary for the long-term stability and prosperity of Afghanistan.
Yesterday's assassination of the acting head of women's affairs in Laghman Province less than six months after the previous head was killed exposes not only the threats to the security of women in the country, but the deep concern about the impact the transfer of responsibilities from coalition forces to the Afghan government will have on the gains made by women over the last ten years.
The Casey/Hutchinson amendment promotes the security of Afghan women and underlines the need for the United States to strengthen its commitment to ensuring that plans to improve, monitor, and respond to women's security are imbedded in the Department of Defense's strategies. In addition, the amendment aims to establish achievable goals for the recruitment and retention of women to the Afghan National Army and Afghanistan National Police which have fallen far below expected targets.
The United States has worked hard to dramatically improve the lives of Afghan women. The greatest indicator of this progress is the 2.7 million girls who are now being educated after years of restriction by the Taliban. Afghan women and girls have stated their goals and desires for progress.
The transition process gives the United States and our international partners an opportunity to strengthen women's rights and lay the foundation for women's full participation in all aspects of Afghan society in the future. Losing those gains will have a major negative impact on all Afghans and jeopardize the future security and stability of the country.
I urge inclusion of the Casey/Hutchinson amendment to send a supportive message to the women of Afghanistan and to enhance U.S. and international efforts to create a safer, more prosperous future for the country. Vote for the Davis Motion to Instruct Conferees.
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