Clinton: USA Will Not Abandon Women of Afghanistan

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton assured Afghan President Hamid Karzai on May 13, 2010, that the United States will not abandon the women and girls of Afghanistan.  Karzai was visiting the United States when Clinton told the President and senior women officials that "we will not abandon you, we will stand with you always." Clinton’s comments were aimed at concerns that a political deal between the current Afghan administration and insurgents could destroy the human rights gains women have made since the Taliban lost control in 2001. Rachel Reid of Human Rights Watch declared that Afghan women "are concerned about the potential consequences of deals with insurgents for their basic rights - even those who are barely able to exercise these rights today."

Clinton stressed the importance of maintaining women’s rights and opportunities during the reconciliation process.  While Clinton supports Karzai’s mission to disarm local insurgents, she demands that in addition to renouncing terrorist ties and agreeing to abide by Afghanistan's laws, "they must respect women's rights."

Clinton’s vow echoes statements made in February 2010 by Dr. Sima Samar, leader of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission and Reid.  Samar and Reid stressed the importance of including Afghan women in the reintegration and reconciliation process. Both argue that the inclusion of women in the process will help to guarantee human rights and women’s rights. "Reconciliation and reintegration cannot be successful without women's rights and human rights being guaranteed and women being included in all aspects of the rebuilding of Afghanistan,” Samar said. Reid additionally cited transparency as being essential to the process.

Compiled from: Afghan Women Must be Included in Reconciliation Process, Feminist Daily Newswire, (25 February 2010); Clinton Pledges to Not Abandon Afghan Women, Feminist Majority Foundation (14 May 2010); Clinton says Taliban who seek reconciliation with government must respect women's rights, The Canadian Press, (13 May 2010); Clinton to Afghan women: 'We will not abandon you,' Associated Press, (13 May 2010).