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Improving Women’s Lives and

Rights in Afghanistan

Ambassador Melanne Verveer and the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service/Institute for Women, Peace and Security

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Although 2004’s constitution improved the lives of women in the country, Afghanistan currently ranks among the lowest in gender equity indices. As the American troops have pulled out of Afghanistan, Afghan women have serious concerns regarding their future now that the Taliban has taken full control of the country. Taliban leaders have claimed that the restrictions they impose on women are rooted in Islam. Afghan women report that the Taliban’s views regarding women have not changed and if they regain power, they will once again undermine women’s rights in Afghanistan. 


The goal of the project is to identify and track priority areas which require discussion and improvement during this period of transition in Afghanistan.  This project will meld Islam and women’s rights with WPS Index indicators to facilitate implementation as well as monitoring and evaluation of women’s rights. Building on the Islam and Negotiation Toolkit for Afghan Negotiators that was created by the Georgetown team last year delineating women’s rights in Islam, this project will link key women, peace and security indicators to Islamic arguments and help develop strategies to defend and implement women’s rights within the context of Afghanistan. The format for these discussions may take place in the form of workshops that also bring to bear the Islam and Negotiation toolkit.


Deliverables & Impact

The overall goal of this research is to contribute to the improvement of Afghan women’s lives by identifying key areas for discussion between negotiating parties and women’s groups and developing strategies to implement them. Some of these key areas include: security, health, education, political representation and employment. By mapping WPS indicators across issue areas that are identified by a range of stakeholders, a range of priorities will emerge. By linking these priorities with women’s rights in Islam, the project will then develop a set of recommendations. These recommendations can provide a framework that can advance peace negotiations by allowing for a common understanding of the problems and then discussion about potential solutions. 

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Program Impact

Our project last year with @GIWPS & Dr. Ayse Kadayifci-Orellana led to a groundbreaking toolkit on Islamic sources of gender justice and negotiation for Afghan women peacemakers at a time of increasing uncertainty. Here’s how this project is impacting Afghan and Muslim women in the MENA and beyond:


(2) @Eurpeace has utilized the valuable content from the toolkit to create social campaigns on women’s rights in Islam and incorporated findings into policy briefs shared with key policymakers


(3) The report was presented with @USIP who has devoted funding to editing and publishing the report in Dari and Arabic to reach and raise awareness not only in Afghanistan but in Arabic-speaking countries and communities.


(4) @RockBrosFund is supporting the expansion and official publication of the report, enabling more research and initiatives to support women’s rights in Islam.


(5) @Wise_Leaders is collaborating on this project to further disseminate the toolkit and organize workshops to train women negotiators using the sources presented in the toolkit.


(6) Lastly, the report was presented and shared through 5 virtual events with: @USIP @GWLVoices @UMassAmherst Human Security Lab @CardozoLaw @LSENews @FBAFolke @UU_University @Sida @EU_Commission Afghanistan Peace Support Mechanism


(7) To learn more about our compelling project and read the report click the link below:

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