Afghan women's perspectives on preventing a Taliban resurgence in post-war Afghanistan
December 4, 2012 - Washington, DC
Capitol Hill: Members of the US Congress attend ASMA's Congressional Briefing
On December 4, 2012, the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA), in partnership with Congressman Keith Ellison, hosted a Congressional Briefing on Capitol Hill, "Afghan women's perspectives on preventing a Taliban resurgence in post-war Afghanistan". The Briefing was moderated by Daisy Khan, ASMA Executive Director and included three prominent Afghan panelists: Sajia Behgam, Dr. Massouda Jalal and Suraya Pakzad.
The attendance at the Briefing exceeded expectations. Seventy guests were expected to attend; however, there was standing room only and an estimated ninety guests filled the room. In addition, included in attendance were nine Members of the US Congress: Susan Davis, Keith Ellison, Barbara Lee, Nita Lowey, Jim McGovern, Jim Moran, Niki Tsongas, Jan Schakowsky, Jackie Speier. All Members of Congress had an opportunity to ask questions and provide brief remarks. They were deeply engaged and according to people on the Hill, it was unprecedented that 9 Members attended the Briefing, as typically 2-3 Members attend. This indicates many of you are very concerned about the situation in Afghanistan and especially the role of Afghan women
The purpose of the Briefing was to discuss specific strategies that should be employed in Afghanistan, during the 2014 transition period, in order to empower women and prevent a retreat to the religious extremism that allowed terrorism to flourish over the past few decades.
The major takeaways from the Briefing were as follows:
1. Provide financial and technical assistance to Afghan women: Over the next two years, Afghan women want to become trained, equipped and given the capacity to advocate for themselves after 2014.
2. Provide security assistance to Afghan women throughout the country: Afghan women who work in NGOs, especially outside of Kabul, do not have bodyguards and Afghan women who work in the government do not receive the same amount of security as their male counterparts. However, these women are heavily targeted by extremist groups. For example, Najia Sediqi, a women's affairs official was killed today by criminals in the country.
3. Disarmament: After Bonn 1 (2001), the international community committed to the disarmament of Afghanistan. This has not occurred and all levels of the Afghan government are still armed, which will undoubtedly corrupt the political process during the 2013 elections. Disarmament is the key to a true democratic government.
4. Delegitimize the Taliban: During Bonn 2 (2011), the Taliban have been accepted and legitimized by the Afghan government, and they are still armed. The Taliban will take part in the Presidential elections next year and this will be extremely dangerous for the women, children and civilians of Afghanistan.
5. Support and assist in the creation of a third political party: Afghan women's groups want to build a coalition of civilian and women's groups which will be the basis of a new party. This will restore democracy and restore power to the hands of the civilians of Afghanistan.
ASMA's Imam Training Program in Jalalabad and Kabul has been successful due to our Afghan women partners who were central to the creation and implementation of all aspects of the trainings. As there are only two years left before the transition, we encourage US policymakers and aid organizations to allow Afghan women to envision their own future and help them to re-build according to their expertise.
We urge individuals and groups to stay involved in the issue and continue to work with ASMA and its partners. For further questions, contact Fazeela Siddiqui at firstname.lastname@example.org.