The U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council (USAWC) has observed over the years that behind many of the successful Afghan women leaders we have been privileged to interact with, there often stands a supportive father who enabled and encouraged her to pursue her education, profession or dreams from a young age. Whether publicly or privately, we understand that many Afghan fathers have sacrificed – sometimes at significant personal risk – to enable their daughters to become the accomplished leaders they are today.
In the spirit of Father’s Day, which is celebrated this year on June 17 in the United States, the USAWC asked a handful of distinguished Afghan women to share how their fathers have positively influenced their lives and professional trajectories. Here are their stories in their own words. Read more
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence uses the 16 days between International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25 November) and International Human Rights Day (10 December) to raise awareness about violence against women globally as a human rights issue. To help raise awareness about GBV in Afghanistan, the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council (USAWC) interviewed USAWC member Manizha Naderi, Executive Director of Women for Afghan Women, a grassroots, human rights organization dedicated to securing and protecting the rights of disenfranchised Afghan women and girls. WAW is the largest women’s organization in Afghanistan providing mediation, protection, and life-saving services to women, girls, children, and their families. To read the full interview, click here.
On November 15th 2017, experts from The Asia Foundation and The George W. Bush
Institute’s Afghan Women’s Project discussed findings relating to the status of and
perceptions of and by Afghan women from the 2017 survey and reflected on the
implications of this latest data for women in Afghanistan and the country’s future
generally. USAWC member, Palwasha L. Kakar, Senior Program Officer at the United
States Institute for Peace moderated the panel.
USAWC Honorary Co-Chairs Make National Media Appearances to Discuss Progress of Afghan Women and Girls
USAWC Honorary Co-Chairs HE Rula Ghani and Mrs. Laura Bush visited Washington, DC recently for a series of events and media appearances to highlight Afghan women’s progress as well as remaining challenges to their further advancement.
Media coverage included a joint Op Ed by Honorary Co-Chairs published in USA Today urging
support to Afghan women business owners and a CNN interview that included commentary by members of the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council.
USAWC member Manizha Wafeq, co-founder of the Afghan Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is featured in an Op Ed by USAWC Honorary Co-Chairs First Lady Rula Ghani and Mrs. Laura Bush emphasizing that businesswomen in Afghanistan need mentoring, on-the-job training and transfer of knowledge: "Afghan women still face significant barriers to accessing capital and collateral to start and grow their businesses. The international community, including the public and private sector in the United States, can support these Afghan women business owners by dedicating resources to knowledge-sharing and mentoring initiatives that build partnerships and networks."
Congressional Meeting with USAWC Honorary Co-Chairs First Lady Rula Ghani and Mrs. Laura Bush
On November 1, 2017 the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee
(HFAC) hosted a closed HFAC Members Meeting in conjunction with the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council featuring USAWC Honorary Co-Chairs First Lady of Afghanistan Rula Ghani and Mrs. Laura Bush discussing the need to continue support for Afghan women and girls, particularly in the area of economic empowerment which was highlighted in their Op Ed in USA Today published the same day.
USAWC and the Georgetown Institute of Women, Peace and Security co-hosted a special screening of the film “Breadwinner" at the Embassy of Canada in Washington D.C.
On October 25th at 6pm, the USAWC and the Georgetown Institute of Women, Peace and Security with special guest First Lady Ghani co-hosted at the Embassy of Canada in Washington, D.C. a screening of the new film “Breadwinner” about an Afghan girl who disguises herself as a boy to earn money for her family. USAWC members Ambassador Melanne Verveer and Rina Amiri have been instrumental in organizing this event. The film screening was followed by a panel discussion featuring the First Lady of Afghanistan Rula Ghani and the Director of The Breadwinner Nora Twomey.
USAWC member Rangina Hamidi’s book launch at the Afghan Embassy in Washington D.C.
The USAWC co-hosted with the Afghan Embassy on October 30th a reception celebrating the launch of USAWC member Rangina Hamidi’s new book Embroidering Within Boundaries: Afghan Women Creating a Future.
USAWC co-hosted with the Afghan Embassy a reception for the all-girls Afghanistan Robotics House team
The USAWC was thrilled to co-host with the Afghan Embassy a reception for the all-girls Afghanistan Robotics House team on July 18, 2017. The team received a silver medal of “courage” at the FIRST Global Challenge competition in Washington, D.C. It was a packed reception, with members of Congress, current and former Ambassadors and a great showing from the advocacy and diaspora communities.
The team consisted of six competitors, Yasimin Yasinzada, Lida Azizi, Somayeh Faruqi, Rodaba Noori, Fatemah Qaderyan, and Kawsar Rooshan, ranging in age from 14 to 16.
Afghan Women’s Chamber Gathering with Afghan Business Leaders:
USAWC member Manizha Wafeq, co-founder of the Afghan Women’s Chambers of Commerce and Industry (AWCCI), spearheaded a conference with Afghan and international private sector leaders hosted by First Lady Rula Ghani in Kabul on July 27, 2017. Participants discussed Afghan women entrepreneurs’ achievements, their need for increased access to international markets, and capacity building support.
First Lady Rula Ghani, the Keynote speaker of the event, emphasized the need for increased support to institutions such as the AWCCI that would play a substantial role in the development of Afghanistan broadly.
The Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington DC co-hosted with the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council and the U.S. International Council on Disabilities the Afghan Disability Rights Conference on May 23rd, 2017 at Georgetown University.
The conference focused on progress and challenges in the disability sector in Afghanistan relating to inclusive education, inclusive public health, and vocational training and employment opportunities for disabled people.
Many prominent Afghan government and civil society leaders participated including Jamila Afghani, Deputy Minister at the Afghan Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and the Disabled (MoLSAMD).
Departing Co-Chair of the USAWC, Ambassador Catherine Russell, highlights Afghanistan as a country where progress continues thanks to critical international investment which must be sustained to achieve long term objectives:
"Over the last 15 years, Afghan women have shown unmatched resilience in making strides from Taliban oppression toward gender equality. Millions of girls are now in school, filling seats that, under the Taliban, no girl could fill. And more women are participating in politics, business, journalism, and activism. Life expectancy for Afghan women has risen by some 20 years since 2001.
The Obama Administration continued the legacy of the Bush Administration by making women’s rights in Afghanistan a priority. While much has been accomplished, much remains to be done. The progress is real but fragile, and women and girls continue to face disproportionate discrimination and gender-based violence — particularly in rural areas."
USAWC member Manizha Naderi weighs in on the effect of continued U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan on humanitarian efforts, particularly when it comes to women's rights.
"Ms. Naderi is the executive director of Women for Afghan Women, an organization that runs shelters for girls who have fled their families because they don’t want to be the child bride of a 60-year-old man, or who are being abused by their in-laws." Read more
USAWC extends its heartiest congratulations to Council member Dr. Sakena Yacoobi for being awarded the laureate of the 2017 Sunhak Peace Prize, along with Dr. Gino Strada of Italy.
"Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, an educator known as “the mother of Afghan education,” was selected for establishing the Afghan Institute of Learning and providing education and vocational training to refugees for 21 years." Read more
USAWC Member Manizha Naderi's Women for Afghan Women held a much needed town hall that was captured here in the Huffington Post.
Let's continue to explore how to protect all of our citizens and help move this conversation forward in a positive direction.
USAWC Member Gayle Tzemach Lemmon wrote for CNN about Muslim-Americans service to their nation. Add your voice to the conversation.
First Lady of Afghanistan Shares Realities of Her Country
Turquoise Mountain Institute, a premier arts vocational training institution in Kabul, has an exhibit at the Freer Sackler Gallery featuring artisans from Afghanistan now through January 2017 in Washington, DC.
The U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, and the Prince Alawaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslin-Christian Understanding hosted a round table discussion at Georgetown University on April 20, 2016. The event featured exhibit participant jeweler Saeeda, who shared her story of finding their voice, passion, and purpose through art! Read more
C-SPAN Book TV: Book Discussion on We Are Afghan Women Laura Bush talked about the book, We Are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope, about the lives of Afghan women since the U.S.…read more
PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS®: TEN YEARS OF GLOBAL IMPACT
Women Entrepreneurs in Afghanistan & Rwanda Invited to Apply for Business Education.
Click here to watch an In-Country Training video.
Click here to watch a video about the excitement of being chosen for Leadership Development.
Applications are due by December 6, 2015. Read more
Feminist Round Table
The U.S. Afghan Women’s Council’s
2015 Rising Afghan Women Leaders Initiative
The U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council (USAWC) is excited to host a group of women leaders from Afghanistan at the Georgetown campus in Washington, D.C. this October 2015. Read more
Announcing Applications for The Initiative To Educate Afghan Women Class of 2020!!
Applications for USAWC Member Project, The Initiative To Educate Afghan Women's four-year undergraduate education and leadership program are now available at www.ieaw.org/prospective-students!
The Initiative welcomes applications from women of extraordinary academic achievement and demonstrated commitment to public service who wish to become part of a strong network of women in Afghanistan helping other women and working for positive change in their homeland.
***Special consideration will be given to women wishing to pursue careers in high demand professions that support the economic and social development needs of Afghanistan: sciences, technology, engineering, mathematics, education and healthcare.***
Deadline for online applications: For Class of 2020 (entering fall of 2016) is October 31, 2015!
For complete program description, eligibility and application requirements and to apply online, please visit www.ieaw.org.
Women for Afghan Women (WAW) 2015 Gala
"The theme of this gala is moving forward, and it's not just Women For Afghan Women that's moving forward. I think the whole country is moving forward... To all of the men and women who are supporters of this wonderful organization, now is the time to help more than ever...we can prepare for a much brighter future for women in Afghanistan."
- Rula Ghani, First Lady of Afghanistan
Foreverstan Google Hangout Recap
Take a look at the panel discussion of Foreverstan, "GroundTruth's first in-depth exploration of the Afghan military, schoolgirls, and millenials," featuring Council Member Mariam Atash.
On May 13, 2015, under the patronage of His Excellency the Ambassador of France Gérard Araud, the Aschiana Foundation held its Annual Fundraising Event at the Embassy of France.
This event celebrated Aschiana’s 20th Anniversary and honored Afghanistan’s First Lady, Rula Ghani.
Photographic highlights of the event can be found here: http://www.aschiana-foundation.org/2015-annual-fundraising-event-may-13-embassy-of-france/
DipNote blog, Afghan Fulbrighters are Part of Their Country’s Treasure
The original site it is posted is (https://blogs.state.gov/).
USAWC welcomes President Ghani and CEO Abdullah with the U.S. Congressional Afghan Women’s Task Force
The U.S. Afghan Women’s Council was pleased to join U.S. Congressional representatives of the Afghan Women’s Task Force to meet with President Ghani, CEO Abdullah, and their delegation, including renowned convener of the first Human Rights Commission in Afghanistan, Dr. Sima Samar. U.S. Congresswomen Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Martha Roby (R-AL), Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-CA), and Congresswoman Jamie Herrera Beutler spoke passionately about the U.S. Congress’ bi-partisan support for the women and people of Afghanistan. They described the Mother’s Day trips they have taken to Afghanistan over the past few years and the relationships they’ve cemented with amazing Afghan women along the journey of solidarity and unwavering support.
USAWC representatives also attended President Ghani’s remarks to the joint session of congress on March 25, 2015 and witnessed his historic pronouncements of fortitude, gratitude, and hope. USAWC Chairperson Catherine Russell, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, Vice Chair Dr. Phyllis Magrab, Ambassador Paula Dobriansky, Ambassador Steven Steiner, Chairman and President at Friends of the American University of Afghanistan Leslie Schweizer, and Bush Institute Political Advisor Sarah Gesiriech - all long-time supporters of the Council’s work in Afghanistan - were privileged to reconnect with the President’s delegation and pledge ongoing support.
In a closed meeting with the Council and members of Congress, President Ghani suggested that those interested in supporting the women of Afghanistan focus on: programs that prevent violence against women, citing the tragedy of Farkounda; create academic partnerships focused on economic empowerment; facilitate a “made by Afghan Women” label (jewelry and textiles); encourage congressional support for the protection of women’s rights as a fundamental issues; and remain committed to increasing the quality of education throughout the academic spectrum.
By the pen of the Executive Director
Date: March 26, 2015
Afghanistan First Lady Joins Bush, Clinton, on U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council
FEBRUARY 20, 2015 – THE U.S.-AFGHAN WOMEN’S Council (USAWC) at Georgetown has named First Lady Rula Ghani of Afghanistan its newest honorary co-chair – marking the inaugural appointment of a first lady from the country.
Ghani joins the council’s leadership, which includes former U.S. First Lady Laura Bush and former First Lady and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as honorary co-chairs.
“We are at a turning point where we can start rebuilding the country,” Ghani said during a Feb. 19 visit to the university sponsored by the Georgetown Institute for Women in Peace and Security (GIWPS). “In Afghanistan, we have had a history of very strong women, and we need to reclaim that history and talk about it.”
Georgetown president John J. DeGioia serves as chair of the council along with Catherine Russell, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, a post formerly held by GIWPS’ Executive Director Melanne Verveer.
“Mrs. Ghani’s inspirational leadership [on behalf of women’s issues] reflects a deep conviction that a more inclusive society is a stronger one – a belief at the heart of the work of the GIWPS and the USAWC here at Georgetown,” DeGioia said.
The council transitioned from the U.S. State Department to Georgetown in 2008 to continue its work to support the progress of the women and people of Afghanistan. It convenes individuals and entities from the business, academic, philanthropic and government sectors to support women in the areas of education, health, economic empowerment and leadership development.
“The council is delighted to welcome the first lady of Afghanistan,” said Phyllis Magrab, Georgetown professor of pediatrics and council vice chair. “She is a dedicated champion for the important role of women in Afghan society, and she joins two distinguished advocates from the United States – Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton.”
Ghani, born and raised in Lebanon, graduated from the Instituts d'études politiques (Institute for the Study of Politics) in Paris. She went on to receive her master’s degree in political studies from American University of Beirut and a master’s in journalism from Columbia University.
The first lady has worked with her husband, President Ashraf Ghani, since his election this past September to embrace her new role while also providing a voice to the disenfranchised in Afghanistan.
She also works with a small team to foster an environment in which every Afghan citizen may achieve his or her potential and can take full part in the development of the country.
“Mrs. Ghani is a role model for the women of Afghanistan, especially young women,” Verveer said. “Her enduring commitment to empowering the most vulnerable and her unwavering optimism about the future of Afghanistan is truly inspiring.” Read more
The Rising Afghan Women Leaders Initiative of the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council
Doha, QATAR, March 12, 2014 - On March 9-12, 2014, The Rising Afghan Women Leaders Initiative (RAWLI) was launched by the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council (USAWC) of Georgetown University at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service campus in Doha, Qatar. This initiative was designed under the auspices of the Georgetown Leadership Academy to advance a core pillar of the USAWC’S mission to promote substantive and practical leadership development for Afghan women. The RAWLI program was offered to 22 Afghan women leaders and six Georgetown University students from diverse fields to support the development of their personal and professional leadership skills. Read more