FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 27, 2021
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AFGHAN WOMEN’S PARLIAMENT IN EXILE: OUR WORK IS NOT DONE
- New Afghan Women’s Parliament in Exile launched in Athens today.
- 41% of Afghan women MPs and Senators were evacuated to Greece.
- The parliament will advocate for the Afghans still in Afghanistan and for refugees.
- Its primary focus is to bring peace and stability back to Afghanistan.
- First call is to advocate for women’s and girls’ rights in Afghanistan.
- The parliament is being funded by Mina’s List.
November 27, 2021, Athens. The Afghan Women’s Parliament in Exile launches today in Greece where over 40% of former Afghan women Members of Parliament (MPs) and Senators are now living. It comprises 28 women MPs who will continue their work from abroad. The parliament is being supported and funded by Mina’s List, a US-based non-profit that has worked to promote women’s political representation in Afghanistan since 2014 and has worked with many of the women MPs for several years.
The role of the women’s parliament will be to mobilize support for their compatriots left behind under Taliban rule, to support the resettlement of Afghan refugees around the world, and to continue to advocate for the protection of women’s and girls’ rights. The women held their first session in November where they discussed the distressing speed at which women’s and girls’ rights were being rolled back by the Taliban.
The women MPs and their families have applied for permanent resettlement in a range of countries including the US, Switzerland, UK, Germany and Canada. They could stay in Greece for up to six months.
MP Nazifa Bek, originator of the Afghan Women’s Parliament in Exile, said:
“Our work is not done. We were elected by the Afghan people to represent them. Our people, especially women and girls, and those living in poverty, are facing a severe humanitarian crisis and a crackdown on their rights by the Taliban. We will continue to serve them wherever we are.”
Before August 2021, women parliamentarians made up 27% of the Afghan Parliament, known locally as the Wolesi Jirga (House of People). Following the withdrawal, women MPs went straight to the top of the Taliban’s kill lists. They became targets for kidnapping, torture, and assassination by Taliban forces. Those who have not yet managed to escape live in constant fear of Taliban reprisal.
Despite their leadership before the takeover, women parliamentarians were increasingly sidelined from the talks between the US and the Taliban. They warned publicly that a hasty and unconditional withdrawal of US troops, without a sustainable peace agreement in place, could lead to a Taliban takeover and loss of their rights.
MP Hamida Ahmadzai, Chair of the Women’s Parliament Committee, said:
“The Taliban has destroyed two decades of progress in Afghanistan in a matter of weeks. We must continue to fight for the rights of our people and save those who are in mortal danger under this new regime. We call on the international community to remain steadfast in their humanitarian and diplomatic support of the Afghan people while denying the Taliban the right to legitimacy.
“We are very grateful to our partners, Mina’s List and Amed Khan in particular, and to the Government of Greece, for the support and welcome they have shown us.”
The women MPs are determined not to be sidelined again as the international community dithers on its response to the crisis unfolding in Afghanistan. Currently the Parliament in Exile is made up of women MPs who were evacuated to Greece. It will be offering all women MPs whether they are still in Afghanistan or based in countries including Turkey, Albania, Canada, Norway, India, Pakistan, Germany, the UK and the U.S. the opportunity to join the parliament’s deliberations virtually.
Tanya Henderson, Founder and Executive Director of Mina’s List said:
“We are very grateful for the continued support of the government and the people of Greece who have welcomed the women MPs and their families with open arms. Today, these remarkable women have found the strength to continue their work as parliamentarians. Despite losing everything, Afghan women are still leading.”
In collaboration with partners in the US and Greece, Mina’s List has mobilized the evacuation of women politicians and activists since August. It has helped to spearhead the creation of the Afghan Women’s Parliament in Exile as part of its mission to advance women’s political leadership and global peace.
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Notes to Editors:
- Mina’s List works to build just and peaceful societies by advancing women's political leadership and participation globally. They have worked in Afghanistan since 2014 on a range of programs focused on advancing women’s political participation and advocating for women’s involvement in the peace process.
- Tanya Henderson is the Founder and Executive Director of Mina’s List. She is an international human rights lawyer whose work has focused on women’s rights, political participation, and peace and security. She has worked with women leaders around the world—in countries including Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Syria—and has been directly involved in shaping US policy on women, peace and security.
- In Greece, Mina’s List is working with Melissa’s Network and Elpida Homes, who are helping to provide housing, food, emotional and physical support to the Afghan refugees.