Ambassador Elisabeth Millard
Acting Representative to the Economic and Social Council
New York, New York
March 19, 2021
Good morning, and thank you to Ambassador Raz and your delegation as well as Georgetown University for organizing this important meeting and hosting us today. The United States is proud to be a member of the Group of Friends as well as a co-sponsor of this event.
As international friends of Afghan women, today we commend their commitment and service at all levels – in communities, provinces, nationally and internationally – to build peace and prosperity for the future of Afghanistan.
This year’s CSW theme of women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in political and public life and decision-making makes this a perfect occasion to celebrate the strength, resilience and perseverance of Afghan women. The stakes are higher than ever as Afghans work to end the violent conflict and establish a sustainable peace.
Sustainable peace depends on Afghan women’s full, equal and meaningful role in promoting and protecting human rights, good governance and the rule of law.
A durable political settlement and the rebuilding of Afghanistan requires women’s leadership and decision-making at all levels in politics, the economy, the security sector and reconstruction efforts.
Afghan continue to step up and speak out – often at great personal risk – for necessary change in all of these spheres.
We wanted to take a moment to pay tribute to a group of seven Afghan women who were assassinated in 2020 while serving their communities during a pivotal moment in Afghanistan’s history. The United States stands in solidarity with the friends and family of Fatema Natasha Khalil, General Sharmila Frough, Maryam Noorzad, Fatima Rajabi, Freshta, Malalai Maiwand, and Freshta Kohistani. These tragic murders underscore the alarming trend of increased targeting of women in Afghanistan and the United States condemns these acts of violence.
As the United States has stated before, any agreement must preserve the gains made by women and girls if Afghanistan wants to ensure the international community’s continued political and financial support. We stand firm in our support to Afghan women and girls, and we will not waiver in this regard.
We support the calls of Afghan women for a ceasefire, and we condemn the continued targeted attacks on and threats against women human rights defenders, civil society activists, peacebuilders and journalists.
Afghan women carry the pain of the conflict in their everyday lives, and we support their calls for victim and survivor-centered approaches to peace and justice, an important link to the other theme this year of combating sexual and gender-based violence.
Women from across Afghanistan have reaffirmed that peace not only means the absence of war, but freedom from all forms of violence including sexual and gender-based violence and intimate partner violence, respect for gender equality, human rights, governance and rule of law, justice, and equality for all.
And that’s why it’s so important that today, and every day, we continue to spotlight the bravery and resilience of Afghan women and women around the world on the frontlines of advancing democracy, human rights and bringing peace to their countries.
As Vice President Harris said in her statement to the Commission earlier this week, “we must consider the status of democracy and that the status of women is the status of democracy.”