How S. 1642 Advances Women’s Empowerment in Afghanistan

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LAGRANGE, Ohio – On August 31, 2021, President Joe Biden ended the war in Afghanistan through a troop withdrawal. Lasting from 2001 to 2021, it was the longest war in American history. This conflict has had a disproportionate impact on Afghan women and girls. According to the Congressional Research Service, Afghan women lag behind Afghan men in development measures, including education and income. In 2018, the average gross national income of Afghan women was $ 1,102, compared to $ 2,355 for men. However, the 2021 Law on the Protection of the Rights of Women and Girls could help advance women’s empowerment in the country.

S. 1642: Introduction, purpose and impact on women’s empowerment

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the bill on May 13, 2021. The bill received bipartisan support. Currently, Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Susan M. Collins (R-ME), John Cornyn (R-TX) and others have co-sponsored it.

The bill’s introduction states that the Secretary of State submits a report on the status of Afghan women and girls in civil society, including organizations that “reflect the interests of the community and provide essential services”. These include government, educational institutions and health care.

The sixth section of the bill describes a policy to protect the rights of Afghan women and girls after the withdrawal from the United States. In addition, six months after the enactment of the law, the Secretary of State must submit a report to four different committees: the Foreign Relations Committee, the Senate Appropriations Committee, the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Committee of the appropriations of the House.

Integrated into the policy, the report specifies an assessment of the conditions of women and girls in civil society, including their access to education, employment, health care and their comparative status with men in the community. company. In addition, the policy requires an assessment of the assurances the Taliban have made regarding the rights of women and girls.

This bill recognizes that the empowerment of women serves the primary interests of the United States for peace and economic progress. Thus, the policy ensures that the United States will continue to support the rights of women and girls in Afghan civil society.

Women’s empowerment organizations

Several women’s empowerment organizations are currently supporting Afghan women and girls. Two of these institutions include the Global Fund for Women and the Fund for Peace and Humanitarian Action for Women. Four women founded the Global Fund for Women in 1987 to provide financial support to “gender justice movements” and create lasting change for women. The organization has responded to the crisis in Afghanistan on its website and encourages readers to take action through social media and political advocacy.

The Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund is a partnership between the United Nations and civil society organizations. Currently, it supports local women’s empowerment organizations in Afghanistan that maintain their operations and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ways to support the empowerment of women in Afghanistan

Currently, S. 1642 has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. To become law, it must pass through the Senate and the House of Representatives. Finally, President Biden must sign it into law. The Foreign Relations Committee must vote in favor of the bill so that it advances to the Senate.

While the bill is still in committee, there are ways for people to show their support. In the United States, state officials and senators can be contacted to express support for the law. One can also donate to women’s empowerment organizations and advocate for refugees in their local communities. While the social status of Afghan women is still quite precarious, S. 1642 offers a clear path for women in the country, advancing the empowerment of women in Afghanistan.

– Ozi Ojukwu
Photo: Flickr

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