WASHINGTON, December 29, 2021, (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday will name former U.S. official Rina Amiri as a special envoy for Afghan women, girls and human rights, two sources familiar with the decision said.
Amiri has spent two decades advising governments, the United Nations and think tanks on issues related to Afghanistan. Under former President Barack Obama, she served a senior adviser to the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Blinken will also name Stephenie Foster, a State Department veteran, as a new senior adviser for women and girls on the Afghan relocation efforts, one of the sources said.
The appointments come more than four months after the Taliban overran the country as the former Western-backed government collapsed and the last U.S. troops withdrew after 20 years of war.
Since then, the Taliban have curbed the rights of women and girls, banning most of the former from working and most of the latter from attending schools in what U.S. officials decry as back-tracking by the Islamist extremists from assurances they gave to observe human rights.
The Biden administration has come under fire from women’s rights groups for failing to ensure safe passage for activists and others that had long been targeted by the Taliban.
Women inside the Biden administration traded concerned emails and text messages behind the scenes after the lightning fast Taliban takeover in mid-August and the subsequent chaotic U.S. exit from the country, according to multiple sources inside and outside the administration.
At the time, Amiri told Reuters the process of evacuating women at risk had been a disaster.
Biden had made clear early on in high-level policy discussions that concerns about women’s rights would not sway his decision to exit Afghanistan, despite promising during the campaign to forge a gender-sensitive foreign policy, she said.
In their latest move, the Taliban earlier this week decreed that women traveling more than 45 miles (72 km) should be accompanied by a close male family member. The decree also banned the playing of music in vehicles.
The United States and other governments also have accused the Taliban of failing to establish an “inclusive” government and they have expressed concern over reports of summary executions and the disappearances of former Afghan security force members.