Responding to the current situation in Afghanistan, Mina’s List Founder & Executive Director, Tanya Henderson released the following statement:
"We are outraged and deeply saddened by the attack at the Kabul airport today, which targeted vulnerable civilians as they sought refuge. We are also devastated that this attack will likely make it even more difficult for high-risk women to leave the country. This attack leaves the world in no doubt as to the chaos that Afghans will face when the US and its allies leave the country. We send our heartfelt condolences to all those who lost friends and family. As we mourn for those who lost their lives, including both Afghan civilians and American soldiers, we must redouble our efforts to help others get to safety.
“As we approach the August 31 deadline, we call on the White House to reconsider and extend the evacuation timeline. Time is running out to save the most vulnerable women in Afghanistan. It is Afghan women leaders, many of whom worked with international allies to secure their country’s future, who are now most at risk by the Taliban takeover. They are at the top of the Taliban’s kill lists. They are targets for kidnapping, torture, and assassination by Taliban forces.
“Over and over, women have been left to last, told to wait and stay quiet. They were excluded from the negotiations with the Taliban in 2020. They were sidelined at the Istanbul talks in April 2021. And now, despite welcome commitments to secure their flight to safety, they are being pushed down to the bottom of the evacuation lists. The area around the airport is becoming less safe by the day and too many women are still struggling to make it through the gates. We must address this inequity by ensuring these women are brought to safety.
We call on this Administration to:
· Urgently prioritize direct evacuation flights for high-risk women
· Extend the deadline so that women in danger from Taliban reprisals can get to safety
· Set up a humanitarian parole program specifically for Afghan women leaders and other high-risk women
“The US will be judged for decades to come by its actions this week. The government has committed to protecting women’s rights as a central part of its national security and defense policy. We must live up to this commitment.”
The Taliban is already placing new restrictions on women’s rights and is much more tech savvy than before, said Mina’s List founder and executive director Tanya Henderson during an interview with BBC World News.
Ms. Henderson stressed that no one should expect the ‘new Taliban’ to submit to international scrutiny. Afghan women around the country have reported that the Taliban is already not allowing girls to attend school and women are not able leave their homes without a male chaperone, restrictions that are also making their way into Kabul. Ms. Henderson warned:
We’re looking at a much more desperate situation at this moment in time. Every woman leader that I know that I have been working with since 2014—their homes have been raided, their offices have been raided, and they have been told to lay low, keep quiet, stand down if they want to survive. Every single woman I know is on the Taliban’s kill list.
Countries must commit to protecting and evacuating Afghan women as the Taliban forms its government and should maintain a high level of skepticism towards Taliban claims to respect women’s rights. Ms. Henderson said:
The Taliban have gotten much more savvy and smart. They know how to speak to Western audiences and international audiences now. They know the right things to say. I think they’re quietly waiting for the international forces to leave.
They also understand the power of communication and media… Once the Taliban take over a district or province, they immediately cut off all communication means from that district or province, so we can no longer monitor human rights violations.
Mina’s List needs your urgent help to support women leaders in Afghanistan, who are currently in grave danger. Please consider making a donation.
Women activists, lawmakers, and peacebuilders in Afghanistan are under immediate threat as the Taliban tightens its grip on the country. In an op-ed in the Washington Post—written just prior to the Taliban taking control of Kabul—Mina’s List founder Tanya Henderson outlined the urgent steps the US government should take to protect these women, before it’s too late.
Co-authored with Melanne Verveer, executive director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and a former US ambassador for Global Women’s Issues, the op-ed highlights the grave danger that these women face:
H. hears she is next on the Taliban’s hit list of women activists. It is one of many death threats she has received — that’s why she fled her home in Herat and why we are identifying her by only the first letter of her last name. H. used to help implement U.S. programs to support Afghan women’s participation in society. She is in a safe house in Kabul and is desperately seeking a route out of Afghanistan.
The situation for women in Afghanistan grows more dire by the hour…Women are told they can’t leave their homes without a male guardian; some have been flogged in the streets; some have been killed. Hundreds of women journalists, activists and judges have been assassinated in recent years. Unless evacuated, many more are poised to become Taliban victims.
The op-ed highlights four urgent steps that the US government should take in order to live up to its commitment to protect women like H.:
First, charter direct evacuation flights for Afghan women activists most imminently under threat. Already, too many have died in Taliban assassination campaigns…
Second, direct a significant portion of the $1.125 billion appropriated for Afghan refugees in the emergency supplemental passed on July 30 to ensure the priority program is strongly implemented…
Third, establish a special parole program for at-risk Afghan human rights defenders; women’s rights activists; and politicians, journalists and other highly visible women being targeted for their refusal to conform to Taliban-dictated gender norms…
Fourth, establish a high-level interagency refugee coordinator to manage refugee processing and relocation across the U.S. government and greatly increase processing capacity.
Read the full op-ed on the Washington Post website to learn more about why these steps are urgently needed, and please consider making a donation to support our work with Afghan women like H., who have risked their lives to stand up for others.
Following the announcement from the Biden Administration of a non-conditional withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops, Afghan women parliamentarians have released a statement outlining their concerns for the future of their country.
In the statement from the House Standing Commission for Human Rights, Civil Society and Women’s Affairs, and the Women's Parliamentary Caucus, they assert:
"Unfortunately, today, as the people of Afghanistan look forward to the prospect of peace, the United States and its allies are giving the Taliban the privilege of an unconditional withdrawal and signing an agreement. These decisions will negatively affect the Afghan people and the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANSDF)."
The parliamentarians, along with Afghan women civil society leaders and their global allies, also share grave concern for the rights and safety of Afghan women:
"Due to their bitter experiences in the past, Afghan women have the right to question the decisions that will lead the country to a crisis. Therefore, the Human Rights, Civil Society, and Women Affairs Commission and Women's Parliamentary Caucus proclaim that:
- As Afghanistan enters a new chapter in its history, unconditional, irresponsible, and hasty withdrawal of NATO in coming September will cause suffering and hardship to Afghan people, particularly Afghan women.
- If war intensifies, the Afghan security forces will need more troops, financial support, and equipment. We call on our international partners to support the people of Afghanistan with financial aid, equipment, and intelligence assistance.
- Afghan women see the peace process as a process that would put an end to their concerns and worries. This is only practical in a transparent and inclusive process with meaningful and quality participation of women. At such a critical historical juncture, the world must stand with the people of Afghanistan, especially with the women of this country."
Upon issuing the statement, Shinkai Karokhail, chair of the Women's Parliamentarian Caucus, stated:
"No one can ignore or exclude us. Women are half the reality of the country. Listen to us."
Nahid Farid, chair of the Women's Affairs Commission, also said:
"The baby girl born in 2001 is now 20 years old. She belongs to the generation that grew up in a democratic atmosphere and won't go back to darkness."
For more more information on the unfolding developments in Afghanistan, please follow Mina's List on Twitter.