Washington, DC- U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) advanced an initiative today to promote the safety, security, and rights of Afghanistan’s women and children. The Senators introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would require the Administration to work with the Afghan government on a host of protections for women and children. The amendment seeks to increase the number of women serving in the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police, help train Afghan National Police officers to combat domestic violence, and ensure women can vote in the 2015 Parliamentary elections. In 2014, women in Afghanistan turned out in historic numbers. Protecting these gains will be critical to the country’s future.
“Women and children are too often the targets of violence at the hands of the Taliban or other extremist groups,” said Senator Casey. “Our servicemembers made tremendous sacrifices to bring Afghanistan to where it is today. As the political transition approaches and we prepare for a full security transition, the security of women and children merits continued focus. The future of women and children are critical to the stability of Afghanistan and consequently to our national security interests in the region.”
“Afghanistan will not succeed if women there do not have security, economic opportunity, and education,” said Senator Ayotte. “As the transition takes place in Afghanistan, it is critically important that we continue to work with Afghan leaders to defend and advance the hard-won freedoms that Afghan women and girls have achieved since 2001. The well-being of Afghan women and girls, universal human rights principles, and the security interests of the United States demand no less.”
This amendment would require the Department of Defense work with the Afghan National Security Forces to produce a plan to promote the security of Afghan women and girls during the transition process. Specifically, it would:
- 1. Prioritize the recruitment and retention of women in the Afghan National Security Forces. The bill would require the Secretary of Defense to assist the Government of Afghanistan in their development and implementation of a strategy in cooperation with the Afghan Ministries of Defense and Interior to increase the number of female members of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) and to ensure their equal treatment. This would include the provision of appropriate equipment for female security and police forces; modification of facilities to allow for female participation; and training to include literacy training for women recruits and gender awareness training for male counterparts.
- 2. Support police units that are specially trained to work with female or adolescent victims. This would include a plan to increase the number of female security officers specifically trained to address cases of gender-based violence, including ensuring the Afghan National Police’s Family Response Units (FRUs) have the necessary resources and are available to women across Afghanistan.
- 3. Ensure the adequate staffing of polling stations by female officers. This amendment would emphasize the need to maintain the female searcher capabilities that were established for the April 2014 presidential elections for the 2015 parliamentary elections.