A bipartisan group of over 75 Members of Congress today sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging him to include Afghan women in the ongoing U.S.-Taliban peace negotiations and calling for any agreement to guarantee the protection of women’s rights.

Statement by Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority:

“The Feminist Majority supports Representative Lois Frankel (D-FL), Representative Susan Brooks (R-IN), and the 75 other Members of Congress who are working to ensure that Afghan women have a prominent role in efforts to secure a peace settlement. The recently signed 2017 Women, Peace, and Security Act recognizes that women’s participation is critical to ending and preventing global conflict. Yet, the ongoing peace negotiations between the Trump Administration’s envoy to Afghanistan and representatives of the Taliban are currently excluding both women and representatives of the democratically elected government of Afghanistan. These exclusions threaten to eliminate the progress of women and girls in the country, which is why Afghan women have been demanding their inclusion in the process.

“For more than two decades, the Feminist Majority has been working to lift up the voices of Afghan women and girls before the U.S. government. In recent years, Afghan women have made amazing strides with the support of the United States. Today, women are thriving in many sectors once prohibited by the Taliban including medicine, military, law enforcement, and government fields. It is critical that women have a seat at the negotiating table in order to defend this progress and ensure they do not lose hard-fought gains. We applaud the dozens of Members of Congress who are taking a stand, and we join them in asserting that women’s rights and human rights are not negotiable in the Afghanistan peace talks.”