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Blinken Appoints Two Women To Oversee U.S. Efforts To Support Rights Of Afghan Women And Girls

Afghan women braved a Taliban crackdown to protest on the streets of Kabul on December 28.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has announced the appointment of two women to lead U.S. efforts to support Afghan women, girls, and human rights.

Blinken named Rina Amiri to the role of special envoy for Afghan women, girls, and human rights, and Stephanie Foster to be the new senior adviser for women and girls’ issues in the Afghan relocation effort, the State Department said in a statement on December 29.

Blinken said Rina, an Afghan-born U.S. scholar and mediation expert, “will work on issues of critical importance to me, this Administration, and U.S. national security: the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women, girls, and other at-risk populations in all of their diversity.”

Foster will work within the State Department’s Coordinator for Afghan Relocation Efforts (CARE) team.

"We desire a peaceful, stable, and secure Afghanistan, where all Afghans can live and thrive in political, economic and social inclusivity," Blinken added in the statement.

Since taking over Afghanistan, the Taliban has named an all-male government dominated by veteran militants vowing a return to strict Shari'a law. The hard-line Islamist group also has shut down the former administration's Women's Affairs Ministry and significantly curtailed women's rights despite assurances that the new government would observe human rights.

Many women remain barred from returning to work and girls are largely cut off from secondary schooling. The government this week further curtailed women’s rights by saying they should not be offered transport on trips more 72 kilometers unless they are accompanied by a close male relative. The Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice also directed all vehicle drivers not to pick up female passengers who do not wear an Islamic hijab covering the hair.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP