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Write to your MP: on Afghanistan – GAPS

To: Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, UK Prime Minister

Cc: Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP, Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth &
Development Affairs, Rt Hon Priti Patel MP, Secretary of State for Home Department and Rt
Hon Ben Wallace MP, Secretary of State for Defence of the UK

Dear Prime Minister
Subject: The UK cannot abandon Afghan women now

We are writing with urgent concern about the immediate risks that Afghan women are facing,
particularly those who have participated in the peace process, led women’s rights-related
activism and journalism, and delivered programmes to meet women’s needs. As the Taliban
have now taken Kabul, it is a matter of hours, days in the best-case scenario, until these
women and their families are at a high and imminent risk of threat to life. As civil society
organisations, experts and networks with members working directly in or with partners in
Afghanistan, we have created strong relationships with Afghan women networks, activists and
peace negotiators who have played a visible, meaningfully enabling role both in partnership
with and on behalf of the UK Government.
As a direct result of this exposure, these Afghan women leaders, activists and
negotiators are now at a high and imminent risk of threat to life.
Collectively, we are calling on the UK Government to immediately:

  • Ensure safe and legal routes to those facing imminent danger and their
    dependants to reach safety. This includes:
  • Provide visas for, and assist with, the escort and evacuation of Afghan
    women at risk.
  • Extend the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) to include
    Afghan individuals and their dependants who are at heightened risk of
    persecution due to their activism, work on human rights and women’s rights,
    and their contribution to the peace process. This would be in line with
    approaches taken by UK allies including Canada, the US, Ireland and Australia.
  • Work closely with governments of neighbouring countries for the passage
    out of Afghanistan to be safe and timely.
  • The UK should cease forced removals and reconsider any refused asylum
    claims in light of the change of the political situation and expedite any existing family
    reunification applications.
  • Prioritise the needs and rights of Afghan women and girls in any actions taken in
    response to the situation in Afghanistan, both nationally and internationally. This
    includes actively leveraging all multilateral avenues to safeguard Afghan women and
    girls and shaping any humanitarian response to ensure it is locally informed and
    gender and conflict sensitive, while encouraging neighbouring countries to keep
    borders open to evacuations and facilitate aid, including supporting safehouses and
    GBV services for women and their families who cannot flee.
    During the past decades, the UK Government has requested the support of civil society
    organisations to host and promote the participation of women’s rights experts, activists and
    advocates, and their organisations and networks. Numerous women human rights activists,
    defenders and humanitarian responders have been hosted by and collaborated with the UK
    Government and others in national and international spaces to advance gender equality,
    peace and security in Afghanistan. However, those women’s meaningful participation doesn’t
    come without a cost (something we all anticipated) or a high level of responsibility. We request
    the UK Government to act urgently to protect these women who are at high risk of
    persecution and death due to their work on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) in
    Afghanistan in support of the UK government’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace
    and Security (NAP). The UK must prioritise support and protection for human right
    defenders and individuals as the UK engages with them on their work and priorities, in
    line with our shared commitment to continue engaging with women and girls’ networks
    in conflict affected settings.
    Some examples of these women’s work with and support to the UK government’s work on
    WPS include, but are by no means limited to: UK-funded consultations to inform UK
    Government action on how to implement its existing commitments on WPS, and to assess the
    impact of COVID-19 on women and girls living in fragile and conflict-affected states including
    Afghanistan; multiple events related to the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI) in
    London and Kabul, including the main Global Summit in London and Kabul; a workshop on
    the UK’s NAP on WPS hosted at the British Embassy in Kabul.
    The work of women human rights defenders, organisations and networks has made a material
    difference to both the UK’s successful delivery of its mission and objectives in Afghanistan,
    and also achieving gender equality and upholding women’s rights in conflict on an international
    scale. Afghanistan has been a priority country in the UK’s various National Action Plans on
    WPS, the UK’s continued role as ‘penholder’ on WPS at the UN Security Council, and actions
    as a co-founder of the Call to Action on Gender Based Violence in Emergencies, co-leader of
    the Generation Equality Action Coalition on Gender Based Violence, and signatory to the
    WPS-Humanitarian Action Compact.
    The UK cannot abandon these women now.
  1. Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS)
  2. Saferworld
  3. International Alert
  4. Care International UK
  5. Conciliation Resources
  6. Bond
  7. International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
  8. Women for Women International
  9. Plan International UK
  10. Womankind Worldwide
  11. ALIGHT
  12. International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)
  13. Humanitarian Policy Group, ODI
  14. Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy
  15. Beyond Borders
  16. Northern Ireland Women’s European Platform
  17. One Young World
  18. Health Professionals for Global Health, UK
  19. United Nations Association – UK (UNA-UK)
  20. Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, United Kingdom
  21. SecurityWomen
  22. Centre for Women, Peace and Security, London School of Economics and Political
    Science (LSE WPS)
  23. Women Mediators across the Commonwealth (WMC) network
  24. Legal Action Worldwide (LAW)
  25. Women of Colour Working in Emergencies (WeCiE)
  26. VOICE
  27. Security Hub
  28. Streets Kitchen
  29. Anne-Floor Dekker, WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform
  30. Claire Barnett, Executive Director UN Women UK
  31. Professor Christine Chinkin CMG, Principal Investigator, UKRI GCRF Gender,
    Justice and
  32. Quhramaana Kakar – Founding director of Women for Peace and Participation (WPP)
  33. Cordelia Apold
  34. LouiErin Heenan
  35. Rachel Lipsitz
  36. Fiona Dwyer, Solace Women’s Aid
  37. Richard Foster
  38. Laila Khan
  39. Michelle Manuel
  40. Lee Abraham
  41. Ruth Appleton
  42. Carol Baker
  43. Anna Rose, Women’s Officer, Haverstock Branch, Holborn & St Pancras CLP
  44. Professor Aoife Nolan, Co-Director, Human Rights Law Centre, School of Law,
    University of Nottingham
  45. Peter Bond, Unite the Union
  46. Brita Fernandez Schmidt
  47. Hannah Bond
  48. Gareth Murphy, Branch Secretary Unite Community Camden LE/00018
  49. Laura Fox-Newby, MD, Good Thyngs,
  50. Sangeeta Shah, Associate Professor, School of Law, University of Nottingham
  51. Helene Reardon Bond
  52. Luke Pearson
  53. Una Doyle
  54. Khaled Daair
  55. Avila Kilmurray
  56. Kim Roper
  57. Delphine Valette
  58. Susan Henderson
  59. Malini Skandachanmugarasan
  60. Hayley Roffey
  61. Riva Joffe
  62. Andrew Feinstein
  63. Diane Pearson
  64. Cllr Sean Halsall, Sefton Council
  65. Elaine Bolton, Unite the Union
  66. Matthew Bond
  67. Nora Russell
  68. Anna Robinson
  69. Griselda Mussett
  70. Sylvia Finzi
  71. Aline Burgmann,
  72. Faye Windridge
  73. Cllr Helena Dollimore
  74. Sanju Pal
  75. Julia Huff
  76. Adi Hollander
  77. Declan Goodhall
  78. Dr Louise Arimatsu (Centre for Women Peace & Security, LSE)
  79. Cllr Alison Kelly
  80. Harriet Evans
  81. Nia Phillips
  82. Mary O’Sullivan
  83. Julian Hough
  84. Lauren Hough
  85. Councillor Simon Pearson
  86. Gary Lane
  87. Linda Heap, Treasurer, Southport CLP
  88. Jon Glackin, Streets Kitchen
  89. Jonathan Girvan
  90. Jane Deighton
  91. Cllr Jen Corcoran
  92. Cllr Janis Blackburne
  93. Jane Jutsum, Director Solace Women’s Aid
  94. Karin von Krenner
  95. Lesley Abdela, Shevolution
  96. Angela Care Evans
  97. Debra Noel Adams
  98. Lucy Moy-Thomas
  99. Reetta Lepisto
  100. Paul Renny
  101. Haringey Unison
  102. Shezan Abdul
  103. Ruth Appleton
  104. Esra Adibelli
  105. Christine Bond
  106. Nursen Aydin
  107. Louise Osborne, Unite Women’ Committee
  108. Baroness Mary Goudie

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