A Path Toward Action for Women and Girls in Afghanistan
HRC-51 Side Event
Remarks as Delivered by Ambassador Michèle Taylor
Good afternoon. Thank you for hosting such an important and timely discussion.
Let me first extend my condolences and those of the United States’ condolences to the families of more than two dozen victims of the cowardly homicide bombing of the Kaaj education center in Kabul last Friday. In solidarity with the survivors, the families of the victims, and the many people who live in now heightened constant fear of reprisals, we call for a global response. There is no justification for attacking innocent students and with already little to no access to education for girls in Afghanistan, my heart is truly broken.
I was fortunate to serve on a panel with Richard Bennet last week on the lessons learned from Afghanistan and the devastating loss of rights for women and girls in all their diversity. As I stated on that panel, I refuse to accept that the story of Afghanistan has been written and the best we can do is apply the lessons of what is happening there to other parts of the globe. We must commit to supporting Afghan women and girls through our diplomacy, development, and humanitarian assistance. We are organizing with our allies and partners, including in the Muslim world, to urge the Taliban to respect the human rights of all Afghans, especially women and girls. And we are amplifying Afghan women’s voices in international institutions, including at the Human Rights Council. And, still, we know we can and must do more.
We know that promoting women’s meaningful inclusion, decision-making, participation, and protection improves outcomes in every aspect of society. This has never been more clear than in the role they play in peacebuilding and recovery processes. Afghanistan cannot afford to lock out the talents of half of its population. Afghanistan’s future must be built by all Afghans, and it is our responsibility to solicit and implement their recommendations, particularly those of women, in our policies moving forward.
The United States recently launched several initiatives, in response to recommendations from Afghan women themselves, to ensure those voices are heard and that their recommendations inform U.S. policy.
Included is the U.S.-Afghan Consultative Mechanism, a series of dialogues between Afghan women and civil society and U.S. policymakers. This will help ensure that the United States is systematically deepening discussions of pressing policy questions with diverse Afghan women and civil society, both inside and outside Afghanistan.
The U.S. Department of State and Boston University also recently launched the Alliance for Afghan Women’s Economic Resilience, which aims to advance Afghan women’s entrepreneurship, workforce participation, and educational opportunities, both in Afghanistan and in third countries.
The United States is also taking action to address Afghanistan’s dire humanitarian crisis. We recently announced an additional 326 million dollars in humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan to respond to the ongoing crisis. This funding brings U.S. humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan to more than 1.1 billion dollars since August 2021.
We must all stand with the Afghan people as they call on the Taliban to respect the fundamental human rights of all Afghans. I am grateful that we are having this discussion today alongside the 51stsession of the Human Rights Council. Richard and I have discussed many times the challenges of finding what leverage the international community might have with the Taliban to respect the fundamental protections of the UDHR. Perhaps together we will begin to answer that question.