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December 4, 2012 – Washington, DC
On December 4th, 2012 the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA), in partnership with Congressman Keith Ellison, hosted a Congressional Briefing in Capitol Hill dubbed “Afghan women’s perspectives on preventing a Taliban resurgence in post-war Afghanistan”. The Briefing was moderated by Daisy Khan, ASMA Executive Director and included three prominent Afghan panelists: Sajia Behgam, Dr. Massouda Jalal and Suraya Pakzad.
The attendees turn out at the briefing exceeded expectation. Seventy guests were expected to attend the briefing. However, since there were no more chairs left for some guests, some of the participants were standing during the whole briefing session. Some of the prominent figures who attended the briefing included nine members of the United States Congress: Susan Davis, Keith Ellison, Barbara Lee, Nita Lowey, Jim McGovern, Jim Moran, Niki Tsongas, Jan Schakowsky and Jackie Speier. All members of US Congress had the opportunity to ask questions and share their insights. The US congressmen and women were deeply moved and impressed by the briefing. According to officials of the Capitol Hill such a turn out of US congress officials in a briefing was unprecedented because normally only 2 – 3 congressmen attend briefing sessions. The indication here is that many of the US politicians including members of US congress are deeply concerned about the situation in Afghanistan especially when it comes to the role of Afghan women in decision making and nation building.
The purpose of the Briefing was to discuss specific strategies that should be taken into consideration during the 2014 post-election transition period in Afghanistan, which should pave the way to empower women and prevent a retreat to religious extremism.