This week's post was authored by Elena Ortiz, intern with the Women and Foreign Policy program.
Afghan Women Negotiators Push for Greater Representation in Peace Talks
Fatima Gailani, Fawzia Koofi, Habiba Sarabi, and Sharifa Zurmati, representing the only Afghan women among the twenty-one-member delegation at the 2020 Doha peace talks, addressed the U.S. Congress and advocated for increased women’s participation in future negotiations. Despite the wealth of evidence that links women’s participation in peace talks to a longer and more sustainable peace, Afghan women have been largely excluded from negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban. President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan has sparked some fear among Afghan women that the Taliban will seize territory and reimpose oppressive measures that jeopardize women’s freedom, such as their right to education and safety.
French Parliament Passes New Law on Child Rape
Under a new law unanimously adopted by France’s parliament, sex with a minor under the age of fifteen will be classified as rape and punishable by up to twenty years in prison. Sex between an adult and a minor under fifteen was previously illegal, but could only be prosecuted as rape if there was evidence of violent coercion. The bill’s passage follows a renewed wave of the #MeToo movement in France in early 2021, in which hundreds of victims of child abuse spoke about their trauma and urged the government to enact stronger legislation.
Christine Wormuth Selected to be the First Female U.S. Army Secretary
President Biden has selected Christine Wormuth to serve as secretary of the U.S. Army who, if confirmed by the U.S. Senate, would become the first woman in that role. Wormuth’s long career in national defense includes service as the Defense Department’s top policy official and leader of President Biden’s Pentagon transition team. Her nomination is one of several historic appointments by the Biden administration, including the appointment of Janet Yellen as the first female treasury secretary, Avril Haines as the first woman director of national intelligence, and Kathleen Hicks as the first female deputy defense secretary. According to the Leadership Coalition of Women in National Security, 36 percent of Biden’s National Security Council are female, representing an all-time high.