Sec. Of State Clinton Pledges Support For Afghan Women During Pres. Karzai Visit

During a meeting with women ministers from Afghanistan on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton “promised aid for female education, maternal and other health services, protection of women from violence, and for enhancing their roles in agriculture and the economy,” Agence France-Presse reports.

“We know that women are central to long-term stability and our strategy to promote security, good governance, and economic and social development inside Afghanistan,” Clinton said. She also “acknowledged many Afghan women fear what will happen when the government of President Hamid Karzai, who is leading a ministerial delegation to Washington, reintegrate Taliban guerrillas and reconcile with Taliban leaders,” and said, “It is essential that women’s rights and women’s opportunities are not sacrificed or trampled on in the reconciliation process.”

The AFP reports, “Afghanistan was ruled from 1996-2001 by the Muslim fundamentalist Taliban who drew international condemnation for its harsh treatment of women and girls” (5/13).

According to the U.S. State Department, in remarks delivered ahead of the meeting with the Afghan ministers, including Amina Afzali, the minister of labor, social affairs, martyrs and the disabled, and Suraya Dalil, the minister of health, as well as the director of Gender and Human Rights in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abeda Osman, Clinton said: “I pledged to President Karzai that we would not abandon Afghanistan in its quest for peace and long-term stability, and we will not. … And I make the same pledge to the women of Afghanistan,” Clinton said. “We will not abandon you. We will stand with you always” (5/13).

Also on Thursday, Clinton spoke alongside Karzai at a United States Institute of Peace (USIP) presentation marking the end of President Karzai’s four-day visit with leaders in Washington, the Washington Post reports, in a piece that reflects on the outcome of the Afghan leader’s trip, including meetings on Wednesday with President Barack Obama (DeYoung, 5/14).