Press Releases

Washington–Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and a bipartisan group of women senators to urge President Biden to take action in response to the Taliban’s decision to renege on a commitment to allow Afghan girls to return to secondary school. 

The senators wrote, “While we are not surprised that the Taliban has once again dismissed the rights of girls and young women, we are alarmed by the implications of their decision for 50 percent of the population and the future of Afghanistan. To this end, we urge you to convey clear consequences to the Taliban for their actions, and take immediate steps to bolster support for Afghan women and girls.” 

The senators went on to address how this latest decision by the Taliban is part of a broader assault on women’s rights and freedom. In the eight months since the Taliban overthrew the legitimate Afghan government in 2021, women have been banned from most jobs, are required to be accompanied by a male relative and are restricted in where they can travel. Most seriously, when women protest this treatment, they are arrested, beaten and disappeared. 

In their letter, the senators conveyed their support for the Biden administration’s decision to suspend engagements with the Taliban due to the reversal on girls’ access to secondary school, and urged for additional action in response. These actions include reinstating travel bans under the United Nations Security Council sanctions regime, and working with Congress on additional measures to provide access to primary, secondary and tertiary education.

The senators also addressed the dire humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and called for the administration to, “…engage the women of Afghanistan as our partners in mobilizing the provision of food assistance, maternal and child health needs and education, not only for women and girls but for all Afghans. The humanitarian crisis has crippled Afghanistan and left 95 percent of Afghans hungry. In the face of such unprecedented strife, it is the Afghan women who have developed assistance networks and communal groups to support their families and communities. The U.S. and the international community must tackle any obstacles to engaging women activists and fully empower women’s groups in decision-making and programming to funnel assistance to those who need it most.” 

In closing, the senators reiterated how critical it is to protect the two decades of progress on women’s rights that Afghan women fought to secure.

Full text of the letter is available here. 

In addition to Feinstein and Shaheen, the letter was also signed by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).