Activists fear 'focus on expanding Afghan women's rights will go' after NATO pullout

Kabul, May 21 (ANI): Afghan women and international rights activists have raised concerns that decade-long efforts to expand Afghan women's rights will go waste after the U.S. and NATO combat troops leave the war-torn nation.

As NATO leaders, mostly men, assembled in Chicago to plan the transition to a fully Afghan-led security effort next year, another gathering of Afghan and American women focused on the need to protect women's educational, social, and political gains over the last decade.

"We have to ensure that our commitment to Afghan women does not end as our troops come home," The Christian Science Monitor quoted U.S. Republican Jan Schakowsky, as saying.

Amnesty International, which sponsored Sunday's conference, called it a "shadow summit" in part because women, and Afghan women in particular, are largely absent from the NATO gathering taking place at the same time.

"We were told the Chicago [NATO] summit has nothing to do with us women," said Mahbouba Seraj, an Afghan women's and children's advocate.

Seraj also said she and other members of the Afghan Women's Network considered it crucial that "we bring the voices of the voiceless women of Afghanistan."

According to the report, concerns about the status and future of Afghan women come after a decade of considerable progress.

Earlier this year, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called protecting Afghan women's rights a "red line" for the US.

She, however, acknowledged that forces are arrayed to weaken the progress already made. (ANI)