1. Update
  2. Peacebuilding

FCNL’s Shukria Dellawar Tells Congress Why It Should Pass the Afghan WIN Act

By Don Chen, November 8, 2019


On Oct. 23, FCNL’s legislative representative for the prevention of violent conflict, Shukria Dellawar, spoke at a congressional briefing titled, “Afghanistan: Giving Women a Seat at the Table.”

Cohosted by Rep. Bill Keating (MA-09) and Amnesty International, the briefing focused on the role of Afghan women in negotiating an end to the war in Afghanistan and building and maintaining peace.

For there to be sustainable peace, negotiations must include all relevant stakeholders, especially Afghan women and the Afghan government. FCNL supports the Afghan WIN Act, which would be a significant bipartisan step towards lasting peace.

Dellawar urged Congress to pass the bipartisan Afghan Women’s Inclusion in Negotiations (WIN) Act (H.R.4097), which was introduced in August by Rep. Keating and Rep. Ann Wagner (MO-2). The bill would require the State Department to regularly report on efforts to include Afghan women in the peace process and develop a strategy to fulfill commitments to women’s rights after a peace deal is reached.

In addition to Rep. Keating, the panel featured Arash Azizzada of Afghan Diaspora for Equality and Progress, Daniel Balson of Amnesty International, and Lida Hedayat of the Afghanistan Women’s Network. They acknowledged the progress made on women’s rights in Afghanistan but urged that women be included in the peace process, from which they have thus far been largely excluded.

If this exclusion continues, Dellawar said, “all progress remains at risk of backsliding. Meaningful representation of women is absolutely critical for peace.”

Keating also noted that peace talks are more successful when women are involved, saying “the statistics from past peace negotiations prove this.”

Unfortunately, according to Balson, women “have been shut out” of the peace process, in part due to the Taliban’s insistence on relegating discussion of women’s rights to future talks involving only Afghans. He pushed back against those who have called women’s issues a “distraction,” saying that “none have sacrificed more for peace [in Afghanistan] than women.”

Dellawar emphasized that the most important way for Congress to support Afghan women is by passing the Afghan WIN Act. “Inclusion is not just a moral imperative, but a legal obligation,” she said. Balson added that the bill would be the first test of how the Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017 would apply to Afghanistan.

Signed into law by President Trump, the law commits the U.S. to supporting the leadership of women in post-conflict societies. Balson said that without proper support for women’s rights, the “U.S. is abdicating its responsibilities to human rights.” Dellawar added that the U.S. invoked women’s rights as a chief justification for engaging in war in Afghanistan and that leaving without fulfilling its commitment to women’s rights “is unfair not just to U.S. servicemembers but also the Afghan people.”

For there to be sustainable peace, negotiations must include all relevant stakeholders, especially Afghan women and the Afghan government. FCNL supports the Afghan WIN Act, which would be a significant bipartisan step towards lasting peace.

Don Chen

  • Program Assistant, Militarism and Human Rights

Don is the Program Assistant for Militarism and Human Rights. He works to move U.S. foreign policy towards a more peaceful and ethical direction, primarily supporting efforts to end the war in Afghanistan and repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). Don works with nationwide grassroots supporters, coalition partners, members of Congress, and legislative staff to reduce the human cost of American foreign policy.