- October 31 - In a victory for Afghan women, the House of Representatives voted last night to include $65 million for Afghan women's programs in the $87 billion supplemental. The Senate could vote this Friday and send the bill to the President.
The President's original request for the supplemental made no mention of women's programs for reconstruction efforts. In response, Congress specifically included funding for women's programs in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We are extremely pleased that the Congress is following through on its commitment to Afghan women and girls," said Ritu Sharma, executive director of the Women's Edge Coalition. "This is monumental for them. Two years after the war in Afghanistan, we finally have a serious down-payment for Afghan women's advancement."
The bill ensures that $60 million will go to programs for Afghan women and girls such as education, help for victims of sexual abuse and trafficking, assistance for war widows and support for women led Afghan non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The remaining $5 million will go to the Human Rights Commission in Afghanistan.
The specific Afghan women's programs are based on the Access for Afghan Women Act, the first bill ever written to provide the U.S. government with a blueprint on how to integrate Afghan women and girls into development and reconstruction activities. The Women's Edge Coalition and several Afghan women's groups collaborated with Members of Congress to create the Act and ensure funding for Afghanistan in the supplemental bill.
The inclusion of women's programs into the supplemental was originally introduced by Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) on the House floor in early October. Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) then worked on the specific guidelines that would integrate women's programs into U.S. reconstruction activities in Afghanistan. While the funding for women's programs faced resistance in debate, Senators Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Representative Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) diligently worked to ensure the final bill included the Afghan women's programs.
Lowey also led the effort to include $10 million in the final bill for Iraqi women programs.
About Women's Edge
The Women's Edge Coalition, created in 1998, advocates with the U.S. government for international economic and human right policies that support women worldwide in ending poverty in their lives, communities and nations. The organization pushes for pioneering development aid programs and offers positive alternatives to current trade policies that benefit and empower the poorest women. The Women's Edge Coalition has researched and developed several initiatives including the GAINS for Womens and Girls Act and the Trade Impact Review.