Mina’s List has been active in Afghanistan since 2014 to promote greater women’s political participation and leadership. Today, it is these women leaders, many of whom worked with international allies to strengthen their democracy and secure their rights, who are most at risk of harm and retribution by the Taliban. They are at the top of the Taliban’s kill lists, and are targets for kidnapping and torture, and assassination.
Mina’s List continues to call on the US government to evacuate vulnerable Afghans, particularly high-risk women who fell through the cracks of Operation Allies Welcome in August 2021. Many women activists, politicians, journalists, and educators are not eligible for immigration assistance from the US and have been repeatedly pushed to the bottom of evacuation lists. This inequity must be addressed urgently. Time is running out.
For women who manage to leave Afghanistan, Mina’s List is also working to ensure that they have the humanitarian, financial, and legal resources they need to support their resettlement.
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What else are we doing?
Prior to the withdrawal of US troops and the subsequent Taliban takeover, Mina’s List partnered with the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS) to advocate for continued support for Afghan women, who have been at the forefront of building a peaceful, stable democracy over the past 20 years. Mina’s List has since worked closely with GIWPS to mobilize international action to evacuate high-risk women.
Mina’s List founder and Executive Director, Tanya Henderson, has worked to urgently raise awareness about the risks Afghan women face and the steps that the United States and other countries needed to take to protect them. This included a joint op-ed with Melanne Verveer, Executive Director of GIWPS and a former US Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues, and interviews with outlets including BBC World News.
As a result of Mina’s List advocacy, in August a group of 46 US Senators urged the Biden administration to take action to protect and support Afghan women leaders who are facing a desperate situation as the Taliban take control of Afghanistan. The letter called for the creation of a humanitarian parole category specifically for Afghan women leaders activists, human rights defenders, parliamentarians, journalists, and members of the Female Tactical Platoon of the Afghan Special Security Forces. This is yet to happen.
In July 2021, Mina’s List Advocacy Director, Teresa Casale, supported the development of the Improving Access for Afghan Refugees Act, legislation to expand access to the US Refugee Assistance Program to vulnerable Afghans including women activists, leaders, and human rights defenders.
As the situation in Afghanistan unfolds, we will work with the women who got out and those who were left behind to salvage the principles outlined in the US Strategy on Women, Peace and Security, including safe and dignified refugee resettlement.
Advocacy for the inclusion of Afghan women in the peace process
Over the past few years, we worked hard to advance an inclusive peace process and developed policy recommendations for Congress and the US Administration to ensure the protection of women’s rights in Afghanistan.
Mina’s List responded to the exclusion of Afghan women from the 2020 negotiations with the Taliban by planning the Afghan Women’s Istanbul Peace Conference, a parallel peace process to the fast-tracked peace talks. We built a coalition to identify 100 Afghan women delegates from across the Afghanistan to attend the conference and meet with the members of the negotiation teams to present their demands and perspectives for peace.
Ultimately, the event was not held due to the announcement of non-conditional withdrawal of US and NATO troops by September 11, 2021.
Refusing to let Afghan women’s voices go unheard, Mina’s List worked with the Afghan Women’s Network and in-country consortium partners to organize strategic workshops in Kabul in April 2021 for the 100 women delegates who represented at least 25 provinces across the country.
The delegates produced over 60 recommendations for a just and lasting peace in Afghanistan. This document served as a critical tool for both global and US advocacy, including the development of a letter to Secretary Blinken signed by 70 Members of Congress to prioritize women and the women, peace, and security agenda in the Administration’s approach to Afghanistan.
To learn more about Mina’s List’s other work in Afghanistan, see our “Afghanistan Project” page.
Afghanistan Crisis Response
The situation for Afghan women is increasingly dire. 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.
Mina’s List will continue its advocacy efforts with the US government and other partners to ensure that Afghan women continue to receive support and protection.