statement on NATO claim of “progress”

for women and girls in Afghanistan


The United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC) calls on people and organizations everywhere to immediately and energetically refute the absurd claim that Afghan women have made “progress” during ten years of NATO military occupation.  In fact, the conditions of women in Afghanistan have deteriorated under occupation and the Obama administration has made it clear, the U.S./NATO intends to stay there, at least through 2024, if not indefinitely.

UNAC asserts as false this statement signed by several heads of state of NATO at their summit in Chicago in May, 2012: In the ten years of our partnership the lives of Afghan men, women and children, have improved significantly in terms of security, education, health care, economic opportunity and the assurance of rights and freedoms. There is more to be done, but we are resolved to work together to preserve the substantial progress we have made during the past decade.

Recent facts to the contrary include:

ń   Afghan women have an average life expectancy of 51 years. According to UNICEF, 68% of children under five suffer from either stunting or wasting due to malnutrition. Afghanistan ranks last in both maternal mortality and infant mortality as compared with other nations of the world.

ń   Immediately after the fall of the Taliban there was short term improvement in the area of women's inclusion in government and of education for girls. However, especially since President Obama ordered the surge of troops in Afghanistan in 2006, security for women has deteriorated.

ń   Current abuses against women by the regime include jailing women for adultery who are victims of rape, as well as Parliament passing and President Karzai signing legislation giving husbands the power to coerce sex and withhold food from their wives at their discretion. Women's groups in Afghanistan cite the root cause as the presence of warlords who abuse women being seated in the national and provincial governments.

ń   Women’s organizations working to reduce poverty and empower women and girls say they receive little or no funding from their government. For example, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) stated position is that “There has been no improvement in lives of this, the most miserable and ill-fated portion of Afghan society, since the establishment of transitional government.Samira Sayed-Rahman of Afghans for Peace said, “They claim they’re sending little girls to school.” There are buildings with “no teachers, no books, no supplies.”

ń   In a statement to the NATO protestors May 20 in Chicago, Malalai Joya, the former Parliamentarian who faced assassination attempts for denouncing the occupation and warlords, wrote, “We have many problems in Afghanistan — fundamentalism, warlords, the Taliban. But we will have a better chance to solve them if we have our self-determination, our freedom, our independence. NATO's bombs will never deliver democracy and justice to Afghanistan or any other country”.

We call for the immediate withdrawal of NATO troops and bases from Afghanistan and for the redirection of all funding to those Afghan organizations actually providing food, healthcare, infrastructure repair, and education.