• BAAG prepare to welcome Afghan gender specialists for critical conference

BAAG prepare to welcome Afghan gender specialists for critical conference

20 March 2014

BAAG have invited 4 prominent Afghans to join them in London next week for a 2-day conference and a selection of key meetings.

Soraya Sobrang, Najila Ayubi, Belquis Ahmadi and Shaheer Shahriah will provide critical insight into the issues faced by Afghan women and how these might be addressed.

The focus of the week is Gender in Afghanistan and will build on events and discussions from 2013 and earlier.  Gender programmes in Afghanistan have been in the spotlight since politicians used the improvement of Afghan women's rights as partial justification for the international intervention in 2001.   Whilst some exceptional advances have since been made – women are back in employment, girls are enjoying education, maternal health has improved – there is a sense that some gender programmes have struggled or failed to make further progress.

Profiles of the delegation:

Dr. Soraya Sobhrang is a Human Rights Activist and is currently working as a Commissioner responsible for women's rights at the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC). Her work particularly focuses on elimination of all forms of violence against women, facilitation of access to justice and judicial systems. She also promotes institutions and networks that advocate women’s rights.  Prior to appointment as the Commissioner, she was the former Technical and Political Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.

Najla Ayubi is the Deputy Country Representative for the Asia Foundation in Afghanistan. Ms. Ayubi is a lawyer and judge and has served as a Legal Adviser to the State Ministry for Parliamentary Affairs within the Afghan Government, was a former prosecutor and a member of the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan (IEC) and the Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB) of Afghanistan.

Belquis Ahmadi is a Human Rights lawyer and adviser in gender. Her career includes Senior Human Rights Adviser at Management Systems International in Kabul, International Adviser at the Free & Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) and Women Affairs Officer at Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR). Ms. Ahmadi has written extensively on the rights of Afghan women and has raised the issue of violence against Afghan women at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and other international policy fora. 

Shaheer Shahriar is a freelance consultant, currently completing research in the field of women’s participation in media and civil society and their awareness of the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework and other related treaties.  He is also Operations Director for Leer Afghan Organisation (LAO), a German and Afghan NGO focused on applying Afghan knowledge and insight for improved livelihoods, strengthened women’s rights policies and with a special focus on vulnerable communities and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Afghanistan. LAO runs women’s projects including access to education, literacy courses, WASH and provision of emergency aid to vulnerable women-headed families and IDPs. 

The Gender Conference provides an opportunity for Afghans and international gender experts to work on these issues together.  Their discussions will include what has and has not worked to date and the remaining issues faced by women and those supporting them.

‘The objective is to discuss and learn lessons from the 12 years of gender work in Afghanistan,’ comments BAAG’s Director, Jawed Nader. ‘This will be crucial to support women's organisations during the transformation decade.’

The Conference will conclude with speeches, presentations and recommendations by the Afghan and international experts.  Seats are available to this open session and further details can be accessed here.

Follow live Twitter updates from the conference on @AfghanAgencies