NEW YORK CITY, New York—U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H), and Susan Collins (R-Maine) today visited the United Nations headquarters in New York to discuss how the U.S. and international community can best support women and girls in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. They participated in a series of meetings to discuss how to protect the rights and freedoms of Afghan women, particularly amid the unfolding humanitarian crisis, as well as hold hardline members of the Taliban to account for their oppressive policies.
“Since the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, we’ve seen what we all feared become reality—the Taliban reneging on its promises to uphold the rights of Afghan women and girls. Just last week, the Taliban government made the disastrous decision to block Afghan girls to return to secondary schools, and the dire humanitarian situation in the country has made life increasingly difficult for too many. Senators Shaheen and Collins have been important partners, along with our fellow female senators, in urging the administration to act to support the basic rights of Afghan women and girls, and today’s visit to the United Nations conveyed the importance of the United States’ and the international communities’ commitment to protecting our Afghan allies and holding the Taliban accountable,” said Senator Ernst.
“Today’s meetings reiterated the bipartisan resolve in Congress to support Afghan women and girls, whose basic rights and freedoms are in serious jeopardy under Taliban rule. Just last week, we saw the Taliban renege on its promise to reopen access to secondary education for Afghan girls. It’s clear that time is of the essence as the Taliban intensifies its assault on basic rights, education, freedom of movement and economic opportunity for women – all amid a dire humanitarian crisis that impacts women and children the hardest,” said Senator Shaheen. “I appreciated hearing the UN’s assessment of the situation on the ground in Afghanistan and how Congress can support the UN’s mission to protect vulnerable groups. I appreciate Senators Collins and Ernst for their steadfast partnership to ensure decades of progress for women and girls in Afghanistan is not erased under Taliban rule. The U.S. must uphold its commitment to stand by Afghan women and hold the Taliban to account for its litany of injustices.”
“The disastrous withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan reversed the tremendous progress that had been made for Afghan women and girls. The Taliban’s recent decision barring Afghan girls from receiving a secondary education is the latest in a series of outrageous assaults on women’s rights and freedoms,” said Senator Collins. “Alongside Senators Shaheen and Ernst, I have long advocated for our government to improve access to educational and professional opportunities for Afghan women and girls. Today’s meetings at the United Nations provided invaluable insight into the steps the international community is taking to complement the United States’ efforts to support human rights in Afghanistan, as well address the ongoing and severe humanitarian crisis. We will continue our work in the Senate to secure resources to assist the Afghan people, particularly vulnerable women and girls.”
Since the fall of Afghanistan, Senator Ernst has been a vocal champion for protecting the rights of Afghan women and girls. Ernst led every single female senator—all 24—in a bipartisan letter to President Biden calling on him to do so.
Last week, following the Taliban’s decision to renege on its promise to open schools to Afghan girls above the sixth grade, Ernst joined Shaheen and Collins, along with Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) in condemning the Taliban’s “assault on women’s education, rights and freedoms in Afghanistan.”
Yesterday, Ernst joined a bipartisan group of female senators in urging President Biden to take action after the Taliban reneged on a commitment to allow Afghan girls to return to secondary school.