An urgent call for immediate U.S. humanitarian aid for women and girls in Afghanistan

Teresa Casale
Teresa Casale
December 13, 2021

Mina’s List has joined seven other organizations in the release of a new, co-developed policy brief titled “Life-Saving Humanitarian Response for Women and Girls in Afghanistan: An Urgent Call for U.S. Action.” The brief, released Friday for International Human Rights Day (December 10), recommends six policy actions that the U.S. Government must take to ensure that the human rights of all Afghans – especially those of Afghan women and girls – are protected, respected, and fulfilled. 

The Afghan population is in need of historic levels of humanitarian assistance. Over half of the population is facing food insecurity. Health clinics have been reported as lacking basic medicines, and the economy is teetering on the edge of total collapse. On December 2, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) reported in its annual overview of future needs that the UN and its partner agencies will need $4.5 billion to help the most vulnerable people in Afghanistan in 2022 – triple the funding requested last year.

Women and girls bear the brunt of these interlocking crises. Even before the Taliban takeover, 87% of Afghan women and girls were projected to experience at least one form of gender-based violence in their lifetime. These risks have only increased since then. With the Taliban’s restrictions on women and girls’ rights to work, attend school, and leave their homes, women and girls face even greater obstacles to accessing crucial humanitarian services and support. 

These recommendations for action are based on obligations laid out in the U.S. Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Act of 2017, the WPS Strategy, various WPS implementation plans, UN Security Council Resolution 1325, and more. The international community must act now and uphold commitments to women, peace and security. 

The new policy brief, co-developed by Refugees International, the Women’s Refugee Commission, Futures without Violence, VOICE, Alliance for Peacebuilding, Human Rights Watch, the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, and Mina’s List, calls on the U.S. Government to take urgent action to respond to the humanitarian crisis and address the specific needs of Afghan women and girls.

The brief outlines the following steps the U.S. can take to alleviate the acute crisis affecting women and girls in Afghanistan: 

  1. Immediately appoint a senior official in the State Department to address the urgent needs and rights of Afghan women and girls.
  2. Ensure that Afghan women are safely, equally, and meaningfully included in leadership, decision-making, peacebuilding, and humanitarian processes using all available political and diplomatic levers.
  3. Prioritize unhindered humanitarian access and reach, and principled humanitarian action, which requires the safe, equal, and unrestricted access of female aid workers.
  4. Lead the global community in providing critical humanitarian, conflict prevention, and peacebuilding assistance in Afghanistan and the surrounding region, and ensure resources adequately meet women’s and girls’ needs.
  5. Mandate that the use of a gender and social inclusion analysis, in consultation with women and girls from affected communities, informs all humanitarian, peacebuilding, and development action in Afghanistan and around the globe, including by implementing partners.
  6. Keep the protection of civilians central in ongoing U.S. engagement in Afghanistan and hold all actors publicly accountable for violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses, particularly those perpetrated against women and girls.

Mina’s List is proud to be a member of the coalition that developed and published this brief. We urge the Biden Administration to take these concrete steps to help the women and girls of Afghanistan.

Read the full brief here.

Teresa Casale
Teresa Casale
Executive Director