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As the Mainstream Media Cheers the Talks in Germany On the Future of Government of Afghanistan, Human Rights Activist Medea Benjamin Leads a Delegation Into Afghanistan to Find Out What Women Want

November 27, 2001

'Marines Secure Afghan Foothold', 'Alliance Captures Final City in North', 'Taliban May Surrender Key Southern Area', 'Afghan Leaders in Diplomatic Lock-Down' — these are a few of today’s top headlines from mainstream U.S. papers.

But the silences are deafening.

Talks on the future government of Afghanistan opened in Germany today. With U.S., Russia, Pakistan, Iran and others exerting strong influence from the sidelines, the talks are between four factions: the U.S.-backed northern alliance, a group of exiles backing former King Mohammed Zaher Shah and two smaller exile groups. The media reported the German Foreign Minister opening appeal ``to forge a truly historic compromise that holds out a better future for your torn country and its people." But scant attention was paid to the fact that of the 25 delegates at the table, only two of them were women.

And the United Nation Children’s fund told journalists yesterday that Afghanistan’s fast approaching bitter winter combined with lack of security left by the U.S. war could leave100,000 Afghan children dead in the next few weeks. Epidemic diseases spreading through Afghan refugee camps near Iran have already claimed the lives of hundreds of children in the past few weeks alone. But no major U.S. paper reported the story.

Well, the San Francisco based human rights organization Global Exchange is going to where the silences are. Global Exchange has sent a delegation of four women to the Pakistan-Afghan border, where they have spent the past week talking with refugees. The women will enter Afghanistan in the next few hours to talk to women about what they want for their country.


  • Medea Benjamin, founding director of Global Exchange and former Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate

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