Afghanistan has a long history of conflict, fractured power structures, and failed invasions by superpowers. Many people around the world believe that it is a country that will never see the end of strife, militancy, and radical Islamism. However, there is one significant way in which the centuries of oppression against potential change-makers in Afghan society can be slowed, and even reversed. By empowering young children, especially females, with proper education and by ensuring their security, Afghanistan can plant the seeds of peace which will one day provide safety for the entire country.
Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania understands this, and that is why he proposed the Afghan Women and Girls Security Promotion Act of 2012. This bill would have ordered the Secretary of the Department of Defense (DOD) to create a “strategy to promote the security of Afghan women during the security transition process,” and to submit it to Congress for review. Sen. Casey’s bill found bipartisan support, with four Democrats and three Republicans signing on as cosponsors.
The bill’s three major provisions require that the DOD:
1. monitor and respond to changes in women’s security conditions in areas undergoing transition
2. increase gender awareness and responsiveness among Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) personnel, and
3. increase the number of female members of the ANA and ANP
Although the bill originally died in committee, a resubmitted version was taken up as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) earlier this year. The motion to authorize its addition passed by a vote of 399-4, and the overall NDAA bill was passed and signed into law by President Obama. Now, Congress can expect a detailed report from the DOD on how it plans to maintain and improve the well-beings of Afghan women and children.
— Jake Simon
Sources: Thomas, Amnesty International