Special IG for Afghanistan Reconstruction Briefs Oversight Committee on Women’s Rights in Afghanistan
Washington, D.C. (Apr. 6, 2020)— Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, issued the following statement after Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John F. Sopko conducted a video briefing for Committee Members on the status of women’s rights in Afghanistan.
“I am deeply concerned that the peace agreement negotiated between the Trump Administration and the Taliban doesn’t say a word about protecting the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan. Under Taliban rule, women and girls were brutally repressed and could not assume public roles in Afghan society, undermining the development of the entire country. Our Committee will continue to leverage new and emerging technologies to follow social distancing guidelines and conduct our work remotely.”
Subcommittee on National Security Chairman Stephen F. Lynch released the following statement:
“After spending more than $1 billion to protect the rights of Afghan women and girls, it would be a stain on America’s moral conscience to let the Taliban reverse the gains women and girls have made in Afghanistan since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001.”
Below are key takeaways from today’s briefing:
- Mr. Sopko told the Committee that it remains unclear how the United States will be able to continue to support the rights of woman and girls in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of U.S. forces.
- SIGAR staff told Committee members that sudden, precipitous cuts to foreign assistance divorced from a coherent political strategy could lead to further stagnation of social gains in Afghanistan, including those made for women and girls.
- Mr. Sopko and SIGAR staff informed Members that widespread poverty, lack of access to healthcare, and an adjacent border with Iran could all worsen the effects of the coronavirus in Afghanistan and exacerbate existing humanitarian challenges.
- Mr. Sopko informed members that if violence continues or increases as U.S. troops begin to withdraw from Afghanistan, it will be more difficult for SIGAR and other U.S. agencies to conduct oversight of the effectiveness of U.S. reconstruction funding.
The Congressional Women’s Caucus sent a bipartisan letter urging Secretary Pompeo “to state that the U.S. strongly supports Afghan women's rights and demand Afghan women have meaningful and full participation in the intra-Afghan peace talks.”
On January 28, 2020, the Subcommittee on National Security held a hearing to examine the Trump Administration’s strategy in Afghanistan. Despite a bipartisan request for a briefing, and a subsequent invitation to testify before the Subcommittee, the Departments of State and Defense refused to appear.
On May 20, 2019, Chairwoman Maloney sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressing her concern that Afghan women were being excluded from peace negotiations.