I visited Afghanistan for the third time in May of 2011 with a group of my colleagues. I, like many Americans, remain skeptical about the long-term prospects for success in Afghanistan. Indeed, I believe it is past time for the American people and the United States Congress to have a full and open debate about our military presence in Afghanistan. Despite my regrets about our continued engagement in Afghanistan, one thing that is certain is that the full participation of more than 11 million Afghan women in governance, economic development, education, and in the peace and reconciliation process will serve as the surest barometer for success for the future of Afghanistan. That is why I and Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rogers (R-WA) created and co-chair the Afghan Women’s Task Force, to bring together influential leaders to help protect women’s rights in Afghanistan.
“After multiple visits to Afghanistan, I am convinced that the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program must include women and take their interests into account. This will require a concerted effort from all participating parties, including the international community,” said Rep. Edwards. “I look forward to continuing to work with Members of Congress, the State Department, and Afghan women leaders to make sure the Peace and Reintegration Program meets the needs of all Afghans.”
During my trip, it was a privilege to meet with our service men and women who sacrifice so much on a daily basis to serve our country. We visited Afghanistan over Mother’s Day, and as a mother myself, I thank particularly our service women who are mothers who spent their Mother’s Day away from their children to provide safety and stability in Afghanistan in the interest of our national security. I am committed to providing our servicemen and women the equipment they need to complete their mission successfully, and to ensuring they receive the financial, medical, and educational assistance their service to this country deserves when they return home.