Earlier this week, Afghanistan’s grand council (the Loya Jirga) approved a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) that will help determine the role of the U.S. in Afghanistan post-2014. This agreement is essential to the well-being of Afghan women and children. The BSA provides that the U.S. will continue to offer assistance to strengthen security, provide humanitarian aid, and support economic and civic development.
But Afghan President Hamid Karzai has indicated that he will not sign the BSA until after the April 2014 elections – a decision that could potentially disrupt the relationship between the U.S. and Afghanistan and place Afghan women at grave risk. Urge President Karzai to sign this agreement before the end of this year. Without this agreement, the tremendous gains made by Afghan women since the fall of the Taliban will be in jeopardy.
With the help and support of the U.S. and the international community, Afghan women have made steady progress in every sector of society. Previously stripped of all human rights and forced into a state of virtual house arrest, women are now 27% of Afghan Parliament, over 10% of candidates for the upcoming provincial council elections, about 35% of all primary and secondary school students, and nearly 19% of students attending university. Maternal mortality rates in Afghanistan have plummeted by 80% since 2001, and women are once again business owners, doctors, nurses, judges, teachers, and civil servants.
Women are a vital part of the economic and social development of Afghanistan and are essential to building and maintaining a peaceful Afghan society. But Afghan women cannot do it alone. Ask President Karzai to sign this agreement without delay. Afghan women and girls deserve our support.