Secretary Clinton met with four female Afghan government ministers yesterday and made a pledge to the women of Afghanistan: "We will not abandon you. We will stand with you always."
The Afghan government is planning to reconcile with and reintegrate "moderate" Taliban, and many Afghan women are understandably concerned that women's rights will be even more sidelined. Clinton reassured them:
It is essential that women's rights and women's opportunities are not sacrificed or trampled on in the reconciliation process.
And Clinton restated that message in her discussion with Afghan President Hamid Karzai later in the day when she listed the conditions that Taliban members would have to meet to reconcile or reintegrate. In addition to saying that they must abide Afghanistan's laws and Constitution, renounce violence, and cut ties with al Qaeda and its extremist allies, Clinton said, "[O]n a personal note, they must respect women's rights."
Let's hope this move to reconcile with and reintegrate "moderate" Taliban doesn't end up being a step backward for Afghan women.