Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication

Women, Reconstruction, and the Challenges of Civil Society in Afghanistan

Wednesday, March 30th


Our roundtable featured speakers from Afghanistan, Canada, and the U.S. who will discuss the challenges, successes, and failures of various aspects of reconstruction in Afghanistan as it relates in particular to women and girls.

The war in Afghanistan has become a staple of daily news in the US, yet there has been comparatively less discussion about the successes and failures of non-military strategies for stabilizing and rebuilding Afghanistan that are being pursued. Even less discussion has revolved around the question of how women have contributed to these pursuits, and with what results.

Our discussion pivoted on 5 thematic points: building civil society, political participation, security, advocacy, and business and enterprise.

Rangina Hamidi, Palwasha Hasan, Patricia Leidl, Mariam Nawabi, and Barmak Pahzwak, joined Sean Aday and Kelly Pembarton for our discussion of women in Afghanistan. Our panelists addressed issues ranging from legal and civil structures affecting the role of women in society to the impact of coalition forces on the development and reconstruction of the country.

Other features of our discussion included the success of women-owned private enterprises, such as Kandahar Treasure, that help empower women both financially and socially. NGO funding was another fascinating topic tackled by our panelists with an emphasis on accountability and varying perspectives on foreign aid in empowering women.

Check back soon for a full audio recording!


Featured speakers:

  • Rangina Hamidi, founder of Kandahar Treasure, the first women's private enterprise in Kandahar, and a 2007 "CNN Hero"

  • Palwasha Hassan, women's rights activist, founder of the Afghan Women's Network, and recent United States Institute of Peace Fellow

  • Patricia Liedl, award-winning journalist and independent media consultant, recently returned from Afghanistan

  • Mariam Atash Nawabi, attorney and social entrepreneur, television personality, and founding member of the Afghanistan Advocacy Group-a national network of Americans engaging with policymakers on development and security in Afghanistan

  • Barmak Pahzwak, Afghanistan Program officer at the United States Institute of Peace and former senior international adviser to the Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, government of Afghanistan, for the United Nations Development Program.




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