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Call for female Heads of State to protect our Afghan colleagues and sisters

Call for female Heads of State to protect our Afghan colleagues and sisters

The Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL) and Women Mediators across the Commonwealth (WMC) authored the letter below to female heads of state on behalf of Afghan colleagues and sisters.

We, as members of the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL) and Women Mediators across the Commonwealth (WMC) representing thousands of women peace and rights advocates globally, are working day and night to preserve and protect our courageous Afghan colleagues and sisters.

They are the peacebuilders, human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, members of parliament, police and military officers, musicians, poets, artists, and others - the women and many men who have dedicated their lives to build their country.

Right now, they are all at risk.

We need your urgent help to

1) Protect high-risk Afghan women in need of immediate evacuation, safe passage, and resettlement by:

  • Appealing to other countries, such as Qatar, that have established relations with the Taliban to provide flights, safe land passage, and border crossing to enable the secure evacuation of these brave women and their dependents;
  • Providing visas and relevant documentation to enable them to access flights, pass checkpoints and cross the border into neighbouring countries;
  • Demonstrating your leadership, humanity, and integrity by announcing that you will welcome them to your land for resettlement.

2) Safeguard the Afghan women who remain inside of the country by:

  • Advocating for a public commitment from the Taliban’s transitional government agreeing to protect the rights of women and girls without a mahram to education, employment, access to public spaces, choice of dress and equal pay;
  • Demanding a public announcement from the Taliban ordering the immediate cessation of violence, harassment, threatening and arrest of government workers, security personnel, civil society and NGO workers, journalists, artists, writers, musicians, teachers and others – particularly those who are female;
  • Enforce measures against forced marriage, which violates Islamic Sharia and is a crime against humanity. The international community cannot be implicated in abetting a government that enables such crimes;
  • Convene a delegation of women world leaders to speak directly to the transitioning Taliban government.
  • Ensuring the presence of the UN and international NGOs, to ensure the inclusion of Afghan women and provisions for gender-responsive humanitarian aid.

For more detailed recommendations please see International Civil Society Action Network’s (ICAN) Action Points to Guarantee the Rights, Safety, and Health of Women and Girls in Afghanistan.

Our time to act is running out. If we wait and watch Afghan women perish; if we abandon those left in the country, we have collectively, as a generation, wiped away 75 years of global, multilateral commitment to human rights, children’s rights, and women’s rights.

Past generations gave their lives so we could live freely. We cannot squander what they gave us through the abandonment of Afghan women. It is our grave concern that this situation is akin to Rwanda in 1994 or Nazi Germany’s rise. Except now it is Afghanistan, and Afghan women and the Hazara and Tajik communities are in extreme danger.

This tragedy was avoidable. The heightened vulnerability of women is also due to the obtuseness of so many for never fully raising the issue of civilian and civil society protection as critical conditions, and not doing enough to ensure women could at least sit at the tables of negotiations, where their fate was being decided.

We - the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership, and the Women Mediators across the Commonwealth - will not bear witness to the rapid disempowerment of women. Not to act now is to render all peacebuilding work everywhere, hopeless.

We are stepping in. Please join us.

Working collectively, we can save Afghan lives and empower peacebuilders everywhere to continue their crucial work.

Thank you for your support.