Quick, which political party do you think cares more about women’s issues in Afghanistan? Depending on your answer, you might be surprised by the statements coming from senior representatives of both major U.S. parties, noted by Huffington Post reporter Amanda Terkel.
Last week, interviewed at his Institute’s second annual U.S.-Afghan women’s conference (video above), former President George W. Bush said that he and Laura worried about the U.S. leaving Afghanistan because if it did women would suffer again under the Taliban. In contrast, consider these comments from a senior official in the Obama administration involved in Afghanistan policy, as reported by Rajiv Chandrasekaran:
“Gender issues are going to have to take a back seat to other priorities. There’s no way we can be successful if we maintain every special interest and pet project. All those pet rocks in our rucksack were taking us down.” (The Washington Post)
Pet rocks were a 70s fad thought up by an advertising exec. Women’s issues, in Afghanistan or anywhere, are far from a fad or special interest, and it’s more than a little disturbing to hear a senior official in the Obama admin refer to them that way, even in an analogy.
You can read the rest of Chandrasekaran’s article for more about the U.S. shifting its approach to women’s rights in Afghanistan since last year. AP coverage offers more details about the Bush Institute’s conference on Afghan women.