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Recent events

Afghanistan’s Education Crisis: Ensuring Access to Education for Women and Girls

March 27, 2023

Embassy of Italy 

Afghanistan is the only country in the world where women and girls are denied an education because of their gender. As the Taliban’s rule continues, Afghan women and girls face a dark future without proper access to education and are caught in a tortuous cycle of disappointment and despair. Despite the unprecedented challenges they face, Afghan women refuse to accept a full-scale reversal of their hard-earned gains and demand their right to access quality education. International attention is urgently needed to coordinate and scale up efforts to enable women in Afghanistan to access their inalienable human right to education.
This high-level event brought together Afghan experts, international partners, diplomats and leading policymakers to reflect on the urgency of this situation, and share their top recommendations for ensuring a future for Afghan girls’ education.

Featuring (in program order): 

Amb. Mariangela Zappia, Italian Ambassador to the United States of America

Rina Amiri, U.S. Special Envoy for Afghan Women, Girls and Human Rights

Amb. Adela Raz, Director of SPIA Afghanistan Policy Lab and Afghanistan’s Former Permanent Representative to the U.S. and U.N.

Richard Bennett, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan

Dr. Habiba Sarabi, Former Minister of Women’s Affairs and Governor of Bamyan Province, The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Gianfranco Petruzzella, Italian Special Envoy for Afghanistan

Sarah Wahedi, Founder and CEO of Ehtesab

Jo Bourne, Chief Technical Officer, Global Partnership for Education

Palwasha Hassan, Senior Fellow, Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security

Dr. Loredana Teodorescu, President of Women in International Security Italy and Head of the Mediterranean Women Mediators Network

Moderated by

Amb. Melanne Verveer, Executive Director, Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security

This event was hosted by the Embassy of Italy, Women in International Security Italy and the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security.

Past events

CSW Side Event: The Situation of Women in Afghanistan

March 9, 2023

This CSW67 High-Level Side Event explored practical pathways forward for inclusive and quality education.

Condemnations, calls for reversal of restrictions and meetings in the Security Council and other fora are important signals of the international community’s commitment to the women and girls of Afghanistan. But more needs to be done to concretely improve the everyday lives of Afghan women and girls, and to ensure their access to education. In the aftermath of the Taliban’s ban on women attending university and women working for national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the international community must keep Afghan women and girls at the centre of its efforts, and urgently find ways to further support their lives and livelihoods, including their education.

This high-level event was hosted by the Permanent Mission of UAE to the UN in partnership with the Women’s Forum for Afghanistan, the Permanent Mission of the UK, UNESCO, UN Women and the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security. The event provided an overview of the current state of women’s rights in Afghanistan through a dialogue with Afghan women – inside and outside the country – on how the international community, especially the region and Muslim-majority countries, can use tools at their disposal to (1) restore women’s rights and (2) find practical ways to improve the lives of women and girls. Given the priority theme this year, it had a particular focus on education and digital technology.

Featuring: Assistant Minister for Political Affairs and Permanent Representative of the UAE to the UN H.E. Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, UN Women Executive Director Dr. Sima Sami Bahous, Voices from Afghanistan, Director of Gender Equality at UNESCO Maria Begona Lasagabaster, GIWPS Executive Director Ambassador Melanne Verveer, UNESCO Member Hoda Jaberian, CEO and Founder of Ehtesab Sara Wahidi, Steering Committee Member of Women’s Forum on Afghanistan Fawzia Koofi, and Deputy Permanent Representative of the UK to the UN James Kariuki.

Moderated by Minister Margot Wallstrom

Afghanistan Affairs: A Roundtable Discussion with Dr. Habiba Sarabi

February 14, 2023 

Dr. Habiba Sarabi – a hematologist, politician, negotiator and reformer who served as the Minister of Women’s Affairs from 2002-2004 and the first woman provincial governor in Afghanistan upon her appointment as governor of Bamyan Province in 2005 – joined a roundtable discussion on top policy issues related to Afghanistan. Georgetown participants engaged in an intimate discussion to understand the core issues related to Afghanistan impacting women and girls, specifically the issue of education, as well as the path toward an inclusive Afghanistan for all women and girls. Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, moderated the timely conversation.

Hosted by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security. 

Education in Emergencies: A Global Call for 222 Million Children 

January 24, 2023

The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security co-hosted an exciting discussion on the state of U.S. Government financing to the education in emergencies sector, with our partners, on January 24 on Georgetown’s main campus.

Featuring: Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait (ECW), LeAnna Marr, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Center for Education, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Elizabeth CampbellDeputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) at the U.S. Department of State, Representative Grace Meng, Congresswoman from New York’s 6th Congressional District, Nehemia Abel, Co-Founder of Ubumwe, Olivia Issa, Program Lead, NASH Refugee Resettlement Initiative, Emmanuelle Dyer Melhado, Outreach Chair, Welcoming Campus Initiative and No Lost Generation at George Washington University, and Jessica Garcia Bocaletti, Senior at International High School at Langley Park and Posse Scholar.

Click here to watch the event recording!

Afghanistan Affairs: A Roundtable with Fawzia Koofi

October 11, 2022

The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security hosted a roundtable discussion with Fawzia Koofi, Former Member of the Afghan Parliament, Vice President of the National Assembly, and Member of the Negotiation Team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Georgetown participants had the opportunity to engage in an intimate discussion to understand the core issues related to Afghanistan. Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, moderated the timely conversation.

Fawzia Koofia standing up while speaking at at event. Sitting next to her is Ambassador Melanne Verveer.

Partnering with Malala: Afghan Girls’ Right to Education

September 20, 2022

The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security co-hosted a side event at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) exploring how countries with a feminist foreign policy can play a role in securing women’s and girls’ rights in Afghanistan, together with the Malala Fund and the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN. Our team also participated in a series of other conversations and events at UNGA designed to advance women’s rights globally. Malala Yousafzai joined international diplomats and Afghan women—including GIWPS Senior Fellow Palwasha Hasan and GIWPS Afghanistan Policy Associate Lina Tori Jan—for a private conversation on strategies to get Afghan girls back in school. The event was moderated by GIWPS Executive Director Ambassador Melanne Verveer.

Islam and Women’s Rights in Afghanistan:
Launching the Islam and Negotiation Action Guide for Muslim Women

August 17, 2022

The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security launched the Islam and Negotiation Action Guide for Muslim Women – a practical tool for Muslim women negotiators to ensure that their rights are understood, effectively debated, and secured in settings where Islam informs the perspectives of the parties. It also offers non-Muslim negotiators and mediators a better understanding of the central Islamic values that may play a role in negotiation and mediation processes.

The launch of this toolkit came at a critical time as the Taliban continue to use a radical interpretation of Islam for political purposes, including justifying the exclusion of Afghan women and girls from social, political and economic life. The Taliban’s extreme interpretation of the religion has been used as justification in rolling back Afghan women and girls’ rights to education, the workplace, and public life. From mandating the burqa to requiring a male guardian during travels, the Taliban are regulating every aspect of women and girls’ lives.

Featuring: Researcher Dr. Ayse Kadayifici-Orellana; Former Afghan Ambassador to the United States Roya Rahmani; Women Living Under Muslim Laws Board Member Dr. Homa Hoodfar; Afghan Women’s Educational Center Director Palwasha Hassan; and Ambassador Melanne Verveer

Engaging Afghan Women & Civil Society in U.S. Policymaking: The Launch of the U.S.-Afghan Consultative Mechanism

Thursday, July 28, 2022

The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, USIP, the Atlantic Council, the Sisterhood is Global Institute, and the U.S Department of State officially launched the U.S.-Afghan Consultative Mechanism (USACM). 

Since the Taliban takeover last August, Afghan women, girls, journalists and at-risk ethnic and religious communities have seen the rapid erosion of their human rights. In a welcome response, forums designed to bring these vital Afghan voices into international policymaking are expanding globally. To coordinate and deepen these populations’ engagement with U.S. government officials, the four aforementioned forums of Afghan stakeholders are coming together with the U.S Department of State to form the USACM.

Comprised of a diverse set of representatives from various Afghan women’s coalitions, as well as civil society leaders, journalists, academics and religious scholars from inside and outside Afghanistan, the USACM will facilitate regular engagement with the U.S. government on issues ranging from human rights documentation to women in Islam.

Featuring: U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. BlinkenU.S. Special Envoy for Afghan Women, Girls, and Human Rights Rina Amiri; U.S. Institute of Peace President and CEO Lisa Grande; Palwasha Hassan from GIWPS and the Afghan Women’s Network; Naheed Sarabi from the Brookings Institution; and Asila Wardak from Harvard University and the Women’s Forum on Afghanistan

The English stream is above. The Dari stream is below.

Holding The Taliban Accountable: Utilizing International Leverage to Stop Rights Abuses

Monday, June 13, 2022

The Taliban continue to engage with impunity in serious human rights violations against the Afghan people. The Taliban have been particularly active in rolling back the rights of women and girls; erasing them from education, the workplace, and public life; and regulating every aspect of their lives from mandating the burqa to ending driver’s licenses for women. International sources of leverage have not been effectively tapped and have failed to change the Taliban’s behavior.

The upcoming 50th session of the U.N. Human Rights Council provides a critical opportunity to address the dire human rights situation in Afghanistan by identifying the most effective sources of international leverage against the Taliban. Join Afghan women experts and leading policymakers on Afghanistan for a discussion on urgent, concrete recommendations that the international community can deploy to chart a better path for the Afghan people.

Participating experts included Ambassador Adela Raz, Horia Mosadiq, Ambassador Earl Anthony WayneAnnie Pforzheimer, Ambassador Melanne Verveer

Upholding Women’s Rights as Human Rights in Afghanistan: An Urgent Moment for UNAMA Renewal

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Download a summary of recommendations for UNAMA mandate renewal

The UNAMA mandate renewal on March 16, 2022 and the appointment of a new Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan offered a critical opportunity to address the dire human rights situation and enhance protection and security measures for women, girls, and marginalized groups. Afghan women experts and leading policymakers gathered to discuss the urgency of this moment, addressed key areas of concern, and recommended actions for UN and multilateral organizations to ensure international mechanisms remained effective in upholding human rights for women and girls in Afghanistan.

Leading Afghan women experts who briefed the UN included Horia Mosadiq, Fatima Faizi, Najla Ayoubi, and Yalda Royan. Remarks were delivered by Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex GCVO, H.E. Rosemary DiCarlo, H.E. Alya Al-Thani, H.E. Barbara Woodward, Rina Amiri, Dr. Sima Sami Bahous, and Amb. Melanne Verveer. 

The event was hosted by the Permanent Missions of the United Kingdom and Qatar, on behalf of the Group of Friends of Women in Afghanistan, with UN Women and the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, and co-sponsored by the Permanent Missions of the United States, Canada, Ireland, France, and Indonesia.

The State of Women’s Rights as Human Rights in Afghanistan

Friday, March 4, 2022

Afghanistan is facing a dire human rights crisis. Since the fall of Kabul in August, the Taliban have threatened basic rights and fundamental freedoms, with women, girls, and civil society among those most affected. Recent reports showed the escalation of extrajudicial killings, targeted attacks on peaceful protesters, the suppression of independent media, and the detention of women’s rights activists, including ethnic and religious minorities.

It is crucial to ensure that international mechanisms are effective in protecting human rights and holding human rights abusers to account. In this expert discussion, leading Afghan women and global human rights advocates shared their recommendations for preserving and advancing women’s rights as human rights in Afghanistan.

Participating experts included Hoda Khamosh, Spozhmai Wardak, Najiba Ayubi, Heather Barr, and Ambassador Roya Rahmani.

A virtual event with U.S. policymakers to debrief the discussions at the Oslo Afghan Talks

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Amid a deteriorating humanitarian and human rights situation in Afghanistan, representatives of the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States met in Oslo on January 24 at the invitation of the Norwegian government for a round of meetings that included the Taliban, civil society actors, and Afghan women leaders. Rina Amiri, U.S. Special Envoy for Afghan Women, Girls, and Human Rights and Maria Longi, Deputy Assistant Administrator for USAID’s Asia Bureau, who were part of the U.S. delegation to the talks, held a debrief of their discussions in this virtual event.

Afghanistan’s Education Crisis Under the Taliban: Ensuring Access for Women and Girls

Tuesday, February 8

Download the Event Transcript

Download a summary of recommendations from the panelists

Over the last two decades, Afghan women and girls made tremendous gains in education, making up almost 38 percent of the students in the country by 2018 and increasingly pursuing higher education. In a consequential reversal, the Taliban have severely restricted education for women and girls – barring women from universities, banning girls’ secondary schooling, and preventing even younger girls from attending school in many provinces. Despite claims that schooling will eventually resume, the quality and type of education under their extreme Islamic views remains an open question.

Restoring education for women and girls is an urgent priority in the global response to the crisis in Afghanistan. Leading Afghan women on the frontlines of education shared their top recommendations and innovative models for ensuring a future for Afghan girls’ education.

Participating experts included Shabana Basij-Rasikh, Pashtana Durrani, Deema Hiram, Maria Raheen, and Palwasha Hassan.

Solutions for Addressing the Humanitarian Crisis in Afghanistan

Thursday, January 20

Read policy recommendations from on humanitarian aid from event.

More than twenty million Afghans are on the brink of famine and the country faces near universal poverty in the next six months. The financial system has collapsed, with healthcare and education soon to follow. Afghan women and girls continue to suffer disproportionately.

This humanitarian emergency demands action. Leading Afghan women and U.S. policymakers discussed strategies for overcoming challenges and ensuring adequate assistance reaches all Afghans.

Participating experts included Rina Amiri, Mahbouba Seraj, Shaharzad Akbar, Muqaddesa Yourish, Maryam Rahmani, Dr. Suraya Dalil, and Palwasha Hassan.

A New Chapter in Afghanistan: Ensuring International Cooperation in Support of Afghan Women & Girls

Thursday, October 21

On the sidelines of the 2021 United Nations Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security, this urgent conversation on ensuring international cooperation in response to the crisis in Afghanistan gave specific attention to the plight of Afghan women and girls. Leading Afghan women and policymakers discussed the urgency of this moment, addressed critical questions, and recommended actions for a more cooperative, effective, and inclusive response to the developing situation in Afghanistan.

Participating Afghan women experts included Fawzia Koofi, Naheed Farid, Anisa Shaheed, Mariam Safi, and Asila Wardak. Remarks were delivered by Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, H.E. Alya bint Ahmed Al Thani, H.E. Jacqueline O’Neill, H.E. Mette Knudsen, and Dr. Sima Sami Bahous. 

Standing With Afghan Women: Ensuring Meaningful Inclusion in the Intra-Afghan Peace Talks

Tuesday, July 28

The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS) and Cordaid, a leading Dutch relief and development organization, hosted a high-level virtual discussion on Afghan women’s role in the upcoming intra-Afghan talks. The participants called for national and international officials to ensure Afghan women’s meaningful participation in an inclusive peace process and to preserve Afghan women’s rights. Read the event press release for a summary of their proposals.

Distinguished speakers included the Hon. Madeleine K. Albright, H.E. Staffan de Mistura, Amb. Marriët Schuurman, H.E. Shukria Barakzai, and Nargis Nehan.