Hillary Clinton: U.S. Won’t Abandon Afghan Women After Pullout
11:00 am, March 22nd | by Rebecca Srulowitz
The U.S. is going to pull out of Afghanistan sometime in the near future. We know that. But what happens to women after our troops leave is a different story.
The women of Afghanistan have made incredible strides in the past few years, and Hillary Clinton refuses to leave their fate up to chance. That’s why, at yesterday’s 10-year anniversary event celebrating the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council, Clinton emphasized that even after the U.S. presence in Afghanistan diminishes, women will still be protected.
Currently, President Obama is seeking reconciliation talks between the Afghan government– a body whose constitution promotes the rights of women– and the Taliban, a body that is… how shall we put this… not so fond of women’s rights.
Addressing yesterday’s audience, Clinton said that any peace agreement between the Afghan government and the Taliban must maintain equal rights for both portions of the population: “We will not waver on this point…. [A peace agreement] excluding more than half the population is no peace at all. It’s a figment that will not last.”
Many pundits are worried that the U.S. will accelerate troop pullout after the disastrous and tragic massacre of 16 Afghanis by a lone U.S. soldier and the unfortunate episode of U.S. soldiers burning Korans. A hasty pullout, some warn, will only make a volatile situation worse and could result in a collapse of the country’s hard-earned strides forward, particularly in the arena of women’s rights.
In the years since the U.S. arrived and wrested control from the Taliban, Afghani women have made remarkable progress. The average life expectancy for Afghan women in 2001 was 44; now it is 62. Under Taliban rule, girls were not allowed to attend government schools; now, almost 3 million do. There were no female politicians under the Taliban; now they make up a not-too-shabby 28 percent of parliament. And currently, 1 in 4 government workers are women, as were 40 percent of the voters in the last election.
It’s more than clear why Clinton– or any sane person, for that matter– would want to maintain and improve these figures. Let’s just hope her rhetoric isn’t empty and the U.S. actually follows through with its promise. It would be disastrous not to.