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Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence

Representing the 14th District of Michigan

U.S. Rep. Lawrence and Democratic Women’s Caucus Statement on Situation in Afghanistan

August 17, 2021
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Democratic Women’s Caucus (DWC) Co-Chairs Congresswomen Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), Lois Frankel (FL-21), and Jackie Speier (CA-14), and Vice Chairs Congresswomen Veronica Escobar (TX-16) and Sylvia Garcia (TX-29) issued the following statement on the situation in Afghanistan.

“We are deeply concerned about the future of Afghan women and girls as the Taliban retakes control of the nation,” said the Members. “When the Taliban last controlled Afghanistan more than two decades ago, women were subjugated and girls weren’t allowed to access education. According to reports issued by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, in the past twenty years, Afghan women and girls have made tremendous gains. Between 2005 and 2017, literacy rates for girls increased by 19% with as many as 3.5 million girls now in school, and life expectancy for women increased by almost 9 years from 45.5 years in 2001 to 54.4 years in 2019. Just over a quarter of parliamentary seats were most recently held by women (27%) – the same percentage as were serving in the US Congress at the start of the 117th Congress. This tremendous progress must not be allowed to evaporate. Women must be able to continue participating in all aspects of society and shape the path forward toward a sustainable peace for their country, not only because it is right, but because it makes peace and prosperity more likely. We are encouraged by the President’s remarks yesterday and urge this Administration to take immediate steps to direct funding and resources to protect, support, and evacuate Afghan women activists, politicians, journalists, and other highly visible women leaders. We also call on and stand ready to assist the Administration in working with our allies and partners to ensure the preservation of human rights, including women’s rights, in Afghanistan and that Afghan women are at the table in determining the future of their country.”

Last month, the DWC Chairs introduced the Improving Access for Afghan Refugees Act which designates Afghans who are particularly at risk of persecution, including human rights defenders, civil servants, officials, journalists, women activists, and judicial workers, as a Priority 2 group of special humanitarian concern for the purposes of refugee processing. In June, the DWC met with Afghan Negotiators Fatima Gailani and Habiba Sarabi, on issues related to women's rights, human rights, and the future of democracy in Afghanistan, as well as the importance of their country's relationship with the United States, and in May, the DWC held a roundtable with Afghan women leaders on their recommendations for moving towards a lasting peace.

On April 3, 2020, Congresswomen Lawrence and Debbie Lesko (AZ-08), Co-Chairs of the Bipartisan Women’s Caucus, were joined by colleagues in sending a letter (included in the below press release and attached) to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging the U.S. to strongly support Afghan women's rights and demand Afghan women have meaningful and full participation in the intra-Afghan peace talks.