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Outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Thursday that the United States remains very concerned about the future of women in Afghanistan as US troops prepare to leave the country.
She pledged to keep the "issue front and center" revealing for the first time that she will stay on as co-chair for the US-Afghan Women's Council based at Georgetown University after she steps down Friday as America's top diplomat.
"The well-being of women and girls in Afghanistan continues to be an enduring concern of the United States," Clinton told a small group of journalists including AFP just hours before she was due to leave government.
"There is still a set of beliefs that do not permit women to be viewed as full human beings and there is still a lot of violence -- some of it family, village related, some of it Taliban originated -- that put girls and women at risk," Clinton said.
So it would be important as US troops withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 to ensure Washington maintains its support for "those forces within Afghan society who accept that women have to be given their rights and roles."
While women have made many gains in Afghanistan since US troops ousted the Islamic militant Taliban in 2001, "it's also true that in many parts of society and particularly in rural areas very little has changed," she said.
"We need to keep supporting the courageous women who will be standing up and speaking out about that," Clinton insisted.
"So I'm very conscious of how important it is we keep this in mind as we make these decisions about our own presence and our own position, about what must be done to give every Afghan, man and woman, boy and girl, a chance to let their own lives and futures improve."