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Curtailing human rights – especially women’s rights – has been a cornerstone of the Taliban’s rule since they took over Afghanistan in August 2021. They have required women to cover up in public; made it illegal for girls to attend any school, including elementary school; and prohibited women from working in national or international nongovernmental organizations, thereby cutting off women’s workplace economic opportunities and undermining the vital health, educational, and other services to women and girls that these NGOs provide.
Yet, Afghan women and girls continue to organize and fight for their own equality, including access to education, work, and other basic freedoms. This World Today will discuss the realities that Afghan women and girls are living in today and what the future might hold for them in Afghanistan. What can governments, NGOs, and civil society do to help protect them? What lessons can be learned from Afghan women efforts on the ground and abroad?
Joy Kolin is a senior international development project manager with two decades of experience working with international organizations in global project design, management and implementation; organizational strengthening; business and partnership development; and leadership and management development. She serves as a program advisor for Jhpiego, a nongovernmental organization and affiliate of Johns Hopkins University that works to improve public and private health service delivery in the five urban areas of Kabul, Herat, Jalalabad, Kandahar and Mazar-e-Sharif. Kolin is also Founder and Executive Director of Giving Joy, a non-profit that strengthens women entrepreneurship worldwide. She received her Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Hebrew University and a Master of Arts in International Relations from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of Johns Hopkins University.
Wazhmah Osman is an Afghan-American academic and filmmaker. She is currently an associate professor in the Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University. Her research and teaching are rooted in feminist media ethnographies that focus on the political economy of global media industries and the regimes of representation and visual culture they produce. In her book Television and the AfghanCulture Wars: Brought to You by Foreigners, Warlords, and Activists (University of Illinois Press, Fall 2020), she analyzes the impact of international funding and cross-border media flows on the politics of Afghanistan, the region, and beyond. She is also the codirector of Postcards from Tora Bora (Documentary Educational Resources, 2007) and the coauthor of the forthcoming Afghanistan: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University, forthcoming). She has appeared as a commentator on Democracy Now, NPR, and Al Jazeera and works with community and activist groups.
Manizha Wafeq is Founder of the Afghanistan Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AWCCI) and the Afghanistan Women’s Trade Caravan (AWTC) to help continue girls’ education in Afghanistan. Wafeq has 20 years of experience in development and for 16 years has been focused on women’s empowerment and gender equality working with international, government, and nongovernmental organizations. She has an MBA from the American University of Afghanistan. She has continued her activism from outside the country becoming a member of various groups such Afghan Women Leaders Forum, Together Stronger to make sure together with other Afghan women their voices become strong and heard. She also continued supporting Afghan women inside connecting them with financial and technical resources.
LaShawn R. Jefferson is Perry World House’s senior executive director. She brings to Perry World House over two decades of legal and policy advocacy, strategic planning and communications, and research and writing on women’s international human rights through civil society organizations and philanthropy. She joined Perry World House after almost seven years at the Ford Foundation, where she worked to advance women’s human rights globally. For fourteen years, she also held several leadership positions at Human Rights Watch, where she led its women’s rights research and advocacy work, providing strategic and intellectual guidance to the work on women’s international human rights. She is the author of many reports on a variety of issues confronting women around the world, and has written op-eds and articles that have appeared in the Wall Street Journal and the International Herald Tribune. She received a BA from Connecticut College and an MA in international relations and Latin American studies from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.
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