Reframing Security from the Perspective of Women living under the Taliban

March 19, 2024
02:00 pm - 03:30 pm

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About the Event

Since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in 2021, fragile policy and democratic gains for women’s rights have been dramatically reversed. This event explored the idea of security from the perspective of the lived experiences of women and girls as they contend with a new political order under the Taliban regime.

Newly launched evidence, based on research conducted by the Afghan NGO DROPS and ODI, demonstrates that families are increasingly marrying off their girls under an appropriate age to cope with closure of education and employment opportunities as well as fear of forced marriage to Taliban leaders. This is underpinned by deep gender inequality and patriarchal norms which enforce a primarily domestic and child-bearing role for women. The event hosted leading thinkers and expert policy figures to discuss how to reframe mainstream conceptions of security beyond an absence of active combat, to include gendered experiences of insecurity. It identified recommendations for safeguarding and advocating for women’s rights under Taliban rule.

About the Speakers

Rina Amiri (keynote speaker) is currently the U.S. Special Envoy for Afghan Women, Girls, and Human Rights. Under the Obama Administration, she served as a senior advisor to the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Ms. Amiri brings over two decades of political expertise, advising and working with governments in various conflict settings in West and the Horn of Africa, the Middle East, Central and South Asia, and Europe. Her areas of focus are peace and security, with a specialization in inclusion in mediation processes. Ms. Amiri has served in the United Nations in several capacities including as a Senior Mediation Expert and as a member of the United Nation’s Special Representative of the Secretary General’s political team in Afghanistan during the implementation of the Bonn Agreement. She has held senior and leadership positions in a variety of universities and think tanks, including the Women in Public Policy Program at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy’s School of Government; Princeton University’s Innovations for Successful Societies; and New York University’s Center for Global Affairs and The Center on International Cooperation where, as a Senior Fellow, she led the Afghanistan and Regional Policy Initiative. She has championed the rights of Afghan women and girls for decades and is a founding member of Inclusive Security, a global women’s initiative advocating for the inclusion of women in peace processes.

Ayesha Khan is a gender and development research based at ODI in the UK. She is currently working on feminist movements and backlash to gender equality as it is unfolding in the global south, in the context of democratic roll back and closing civic space. Her South Asian expertise draws on thirty years of working in Pakistan, which includes closely following the impact of the protracted conflict in Afghanistan on the status of women. She is author of The Women’s Movement in Pakistan: Activism, Islam and Democracy.

Amira Maaty (moderator) is the Senior Director for Middle East North Africa Programs at the National Endowment for Democracy having previously served as Senior Program Officer overseeing Egypt and cross MENA regional programs. She was formerly the Director of the Intercultural Management Institute at American University’s School of International Service, which specialized in cross-cultural communication, dialogue, and negotiation. Amira has over 17 years of experience in democratization, civil society development, and international training and education with a regional focus on the Middle East and North Africa. She has also held positions with international development and educational organizations including IREX, Internews Network, and Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. Amira holds a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from the George Washington University and a master’s degree in international peace and conflict resolution from American University.

Mariam Safi serves as the founding Executive Director of the Organization for Policy Research and Development Studies (DROPS), which was established in Afghanistan in 2014 and expanded its operations to Canada in 2021. She is a researcher and peace-building practitioner with 15 years of experience working in Afghanistan and the South Asian region. Her expertise spans a broad spectrum of topics related to policy development, inclusive practices, and peace initiatives.

Dr. Nilofar Sakhi is a scholar and practitioner of security and peace. Sakhi is a professorial lecturer of International Affairs at Elliott school of George Washington University. She is the founder and president of Andiana Foundation, an organization focuses on peace, security and development. She is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. She served as a country director of the Open Society Foundation-Afghanistan and an executive director at the American University of Afghanistan where she also served as a trustee.  She has extensive experience in civil society empowerment and one of the pioneers of women’s social and political participation where she founded a women’s organization, radio station for women and a library for women in Afghanistan. A former Fulbright fellow, Sakhi has written extensively on various aspects of traditional and nontraditional security, geopolitics of peace, peacemaking and peacebuilding processes and human security. Her recent book is on Human Security and Agency: Reframing productive power in Afghanistan. A former visiting research fellow at Kroc Institute of International Peace Studies, Keough School of Global Affairs, Notre Dame University, National Endowment for Democracy, Columbia University, and a fellow at Asia Society and International Center for Tolerance Education, Nilofar has researched a wide range of research projects pertaining to democracy, regional security, traditional and nontraditional security,  and peacebuilding & peacemaking.