The Taliban and the Future of Women’s Rights in Afghanistan
Monday, December 13, 2021 | 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM ET
The Taliban’s rapid takeover and return to power in Afghanistan this past summer has raised the question of whether the group has softened in its approach to the rights of women and girls or if they will be just as repressive as they were in the 1990s. Simultaneously, the international community is under pressure to recognize the Taliban’s leadership to unfreeze foreign reserves critical to addressing the unfolding economic and humanitarian crisis and to coordinate response to ISIS-K. What are the different scenarios facing the rights of women and girls as the international community and the Taliban negotiate the parameters of their interactions? Join us Monday, December 13th at 12 PM ET to understand how women and girls have fared since the Taliban takeover and what the outlook is for their future. Our guest speakers are Lina AbiRafeh, Executive Director of the Arab Institute for Women; and Jane Ferguson, Foreign Correspondent for PBS NewsHour.
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Lina AbiRafeh is a global women’s rights expert and humanitarian aid worker with decades of experience worldwide. Since 2015, she has served as the Executive Director of the Arab Institute for Women at the Lebanese American University, an academic and activist institute covering the 22 Arab states. The Institute was established in 1973 as the first women’s institute in the Arab region – and one of the first globally. Lina spent over 20 years in development and humanitarian contexts in countries such as Afghanistan, Haiti, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nepal, and others. Her specific expertise is in gender-based violence prevention and response, summarized by her TEDx talk, WomenDeliver PowerTalk, keynote address for Swedish International Development Agency annual meeting, amongst others.
Lina completed her doctoral work from the London School of Economics and published “Gender and International Aid in Afghanistan: The Politics and Effects of Intervention” based on her research. A second book on this theme is currently underway, to be released in early 2022. Lina speaks and publishes frequently on a range of gender issues, for instance on the need for a feminist response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Arab women and girls. She believes women’s leadership is the strongest vehicle for peace and sustainable development. Lina’s piece I Hate International Women’s Day has resonated with women’s rights activists worldwide. Her work on women in Afghanistan was featured on CNN, leading to a live CNN interview on this topic, as well as appearances on France24, CNN Greece, BBC, and others. On October 11, Lina was featured on Good Morning America for International Day of the Girl.
Lina is a board member of various organizations including SheDecides, Forced Migration Review, Society of Gender Professionals, and others. Lina is among the Gender Equality Top 100 worldwide in 2018 and 2019. She was awarded a Vital Voices fellowship for 2021 for outstanding women leaders. She was recognized by the Women’s Media Center as one of their Progressive Women’s Voices for 2021 and is featured in their database of experts
Jane Ferguson is a multi award-winning broadcaster for PBS NewsHour and contributor to the New Yorker. Based in the Middle East for 13 years, she has covered wars and humanitarian crises and revolutions across Africa, South Asia and the Middle East. Ferguson’s reporting in Yemen exposed the humanitarian catastrophe caused directly by the war. She has investigated war crimes by the US and its allies in Taliban controlled areas of Afghanistan and reported from Kabul as the US withdrew and Afghan government collapsed. She reported extensively from the front lines of the battles against ISIS in Iraq and Syria for PBS, and has covered the link between climate change and conflict across Somalia. Before working for PBS she was an Al Jazeera English correspondent, where she was the network’s first journalist to be smuggled into Syria by rebels. She went on to become Al Jazeera’s Afghanistan correspondent and lived in the country for a year. Jane’s reporting has earned her a Peabody, Alfred I. duPont Columbia University Award, an Emmy, a Polk Award, and the Aurora Humanitarian Journalism Award.
Palwasha Hassan is the director of Afghan Women’s Educational Center. She holds a master’s degree in Post-war Recovery Studies from York University, UK and has been former fellow in United States Institute of Peace. She is a dedicated Women’s Rights activist pioneering many critical work for promotion of Women’s rights and civil society in Afghanistan that includes first women legal support organization Roazana, Women and street Children Center, Madadgar Women and Children Safe Home Network, Irfan Cultural Center among others. She is a strong advocate on women peace building and political participation. Palwasha Hassan started her career as volunteer with AWEC while pursuing her school as refugee in Pakistan. As a young women activist she laid the foundation of Afghan Women Network (AWN), a visionary movement of women which up today is playing pivotal role in Women’s right lobby in the country from last twenty years.
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