After a fast-paced and enriching start to our partnership with Women for Afghan Women (WAW), our team of eight Georgetown Master of Science in Foreign Service students are thrilled to dive headfirst into the challenge of bringing rigorous analysis and recommendations to an organization that serves thousands of women and girls each year. Through this practicum, Women Forward International (WFI) has offered us a unique and engaging opportunity to both study an issue of critical global importance, and to take an active part in ensuring that the physical security and rights of women in Afghanistan are protected in a future intra-Afghan peace agreement. We hope our team’s varying regional and professional expertise will allow us to bring diverse perspectives to this important research.
We hit the ground running with an intensive dive into the status and culture of women’s rights and inclusion in Afghanistan, including informative discussions with leading practitioners at the United States Institute of Peace. We additionally met with representatives of WAW and the President and Executive director of WFI, Dr. Kent Davis-Packard. These engaging discussions helped us shape our approach and learn more about policy opportunities to address gender equality and the complex challenges posed by the Afghan context.
Currently we are developing our research framework and reaching out to DC practitioners for interviews. We hope to gain additional insight from these professionals focusing on the following: elements necessary to ensure the participation and protection of women in an intra-Afghan peace agreement, role of government and civil society in maintaining protections for women and service providers for women, and relevant case studies of gender inclusion in a peacemaking context. There is much work ahead as we prepare for our continued research and interviews, and we are sincerely grateful to Dr. Kent Davis-Packard for her guidance and WFI for this opportunity to unite classroom education, experiential learning, and meaningful action.