About the Event
After the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the status of women shifted dramatically, bringing about a shift in their status. Afghan women found themselves empowered in ways they had not been under the Taliban’s rule. Women became able to access education, hold jobs, and participate in political processes, areas that had been closed to them during the years of the repressive regime. Despite these gains, however, women continue to confront significant challenges in obtaining equal rights, as Afghanistan’s future remains uncertain due to ongoing violence throughout the country. Fatema Jafari evaluated the gains Afghan women have made and identified the social, economic, and political barriers to equality that they continue to face. Drawing on her own experience as an elected Afghan politician, Ms. Jafari offered recommendations for Afghan women, the Afghan government, and the international community on steps they can take to foster gender equality in Afghanistan.
Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow
National Endowment for Democracy
About the Speakers
Ms. Fatema Jafari is a women’s rights advocate and public official recently reelected as a member of the Provincial Council of Herat, where she serves on a number of committees related to women’s rights in Afghanistan. As head of the family support committee, she facilitated the creation of an umbrella group of roughly 80 women’s organizations to help coordinate their efforts. Previously she participated in three loya jirgas (consultative councils) from 2010–2013. She has worked on several advocacy campaigns opposing violence against women and has pressed for greater respect for women’s rights at the national level. During her fellowship, Ms. Jafari is identifying key barriers to women’s political participation in Afghanistan and assess how women may overcome them. As a culmination of her research, she hopes to develop a training manual for civil society activists, students, and public officials showcasing ways of strengthening women’s political participation in Afghanistan. Richard Kraemer is senior program officer for the Middle East and North Africa at the National Endowment for Democracy.