Urgent Call on Biden Administration: Do Not Abandon Afghan Women and Girls

by on August 20, 2021 · 0 comments

in War and Peace, Women's Rights, World News

The following women’s letter was organized by Vital Voices and Women for Women International, a group of celebrities, policy experts, NGO leaders and activists.

Urgent Call on Biden Administration: Do Not Abandon Afghan Women and Girls

We join a growing chorus of global leaders and advocates in raising up the voices of Afghan women’s rights activists who are under imminent threat, and urge the Biden administration to honor its commitment to gender equality by acting swiftly to support women who are trapped in a dire crisis.

There have been numerous reports of Taliban fighters going door-to-door in search of women’s rights activists. These women fear they will be assassinated. This is consistent with their actions of killing activists in the last year and we have no reason to believe these assassinations will stop. Immediate action must be taken to safeguard Afghan women most at risk: women’s rights activists, journalists, educators, civil society leaders, human rights defenders and direct service providers. The very women who have been on the front-lines for decades, risking their safety to realize the promise of equal rights, are being abandoned by those who pledged to protect them. In the face of this mounting crisis.

We are calling on the administration to immediately take four concrete steps to support Afghan women:

1. Provide direct evacuation flights for women who are under imminent threat. Major roadways and borders have been blocked. Emergency evacuation flights are the only viable option for targeted women’s rights activists and their families. Thee U.S. military must remain on the ground to facilitate safe travel and entry to the airport and evacuation. Thee deadline must be extended until these women and their families are able to safely evacuate with the support of the U.S. military.

2. Expand Special Immigrant Visas to include a category for at-risk women and raise the refugee cap. Bureaucratic red tape is costing lives. Thee administration must accept more refugees and work with Congress to add a category to SIV visas for at-risk women. Additional staff and resources must be made available so that applications are fast-tracked.

3. Allocate resources for livelihood assistance and resettlement. Women and children who are able to evacuate will need urgent support. Emergency funding must be made available for resettlement.

4. Protect and invest in women who remain in Afghanistan. The administration must defend and bolster Afghan women’s rights organizations and their leaders. We must do all we can to ensure that they can continue to provide crucial services to women and girls who will remain inside Afghanistan regardless of who governs the country.

Twenty years ago, we were told that the U.S. government’s invasion of Afghanistan was justified, in part, because of the threat the Taliban posed to women and girls. The threat remains. At this very moment, women are seeking emergency shelter and assistance. They are fleeing for their lives. Almost overnight, women’s hard-earned gains of the last 20 years have vanished. We cannot stand by and watch as a humanitarian tragedy unfolds in real time. There are moments in history when we will be judged by whether or not we did the right thing. This is one of those moments.

We call on the administration to act immediately to protect and support Afghan women, and urge others to join us.

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