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Gorman reads her poem during Biden's inauguration. Photographer: Patrick Semansky/AP Photo/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Prominent women's rights advocates, including poet laureate Amanda Gorman, are calling on the Biden administration to protect and support Afghan women and girls and "honor its commitment to gender equity."

Why it matters: The activists — including the actors Connie Britton and Charlize Theron, fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg — are the latest advocates to try to increase pressure on President Biden to do more for Afghans who could face persecution from the Taliban.

  • “We join a growing chorus of global leaders and advocates in raising up the voices of Afghan women’s rights activists who are under imminent threat,” the activists write in an open letter to the White House.
  • “Immediate action must be taken to safeguard Afghan women most at risk: women’s rights activists, journalists, educators, civil society leaders, human rights defenders and direct service providers.”

The big picture: While the U.S. is ramping up the airlift in Kabul, it is still only using a fraction of its total capacity to evacuate Americans and Afghans.

  • The U.S. has enough aircraft available to meet its goal of getting 5,000–9,000 people out of the country each day, Gen. Hank Taylor told reporters on Thursday, but it has only evacuated 7,000 people in total since Saturday — 2,000 of them in the previous 24 hours.
  • “No flight out of Kabul should have empty seats,” more than 300 former national security officials, organized by members of the Truman National Security Project, wrote to Biden and Congress in a separate letter.

Driving the news: The women's letter was organized by Vital Voices and Women for Women International, a group of celebrities, policy experts, NGO leaders and activists.

  • They are demanding that Biden take four concrete steps: provide direct evacuation flights for women; include a category for at-risk women for Special Immigrant Visas and raise the refugee cap; provide more resources for assistance and resettlement; and protect and invest in women who remain in Afghanistan.

Read the letter.

Go deeper: Exclusive: Inside the White House scramble to protect Afghan allies

Go deeper

Sep 17, 2021 - World

UN Security Council extends Afghan mission by six months

UN Secretary-General António Guterres attends a press conference on Afghanistan in Geneva on Sept. 13, 2021. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

The United Nations Security Council on Friday authorized a six-month extension of the UN's political mission in Afghanistan.

Why it matters: The move will allow Secretary-General António Guterres to compile the necessary information to determine "strategic and operational recommendations" in light of the Taliban's takeover.

19 hours ago - World

Taliban exclude Afghan teen girls from attending school

Afghan girl students wearing facemasks attend a class in Herat on Aug. 22, 2020. Photo: Hoshang Hashimi/AFP via Getty Images.

The Taliban reopened Afghan secondary schools on Saturday for only boys, effectively banning teen girls from receiving a formal education, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: The move raises new fears that the Taliban will break public promises and impose severe restrictions on women's rights similar to those implemented in the 1990s.

Sep 18, 2021 - Health

Mississippi reports rise in COVID-19 deaths among pregnant women

Dr. Thomas Dobbs speaks during a House Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., on March 10, 2020. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

At least eight pregnant women in Mississippi, who weren't fully vaccinated, have died of COVID-19 since late July, CNN reports.

Why it matters: The eight pregnant women who have died from the virus more than doubles the state's pandemic total in just two months.