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Women and International Peace and Security in Afghanistan

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Join this Castan Centre for Human Rights Law and the Centre for Gender, Peace and Security event focussing on Women in Afghanistan.

About this event

The Castan Centre for Human Rights Law and the Centre for Gender, Peace and Security at Monash University are delighted to co-host a panel discussion on the topic of ‘Women and International Peace and Security in Afghanistan’.

Sustainable peace requires women’s voices to be heard. To-date, the peace negotiations have been marked by limited participation of women, which poses a concern not only for the process of negotiation but also the broader implications which any agreement will have on the enjoyment of rights, peace and security for millions of women and girls in Afghanistan.

This event brings together speakers from different spheres of public life in Afghanistan to discuss important issues which have not received sufficient attention in official negotiations and debates. This includes the role of women for sustainable peace and the long-term effects of any agreement on the lives of women and girls in Afghanistan. The event also considers how the situation in Afghanistan affect Afghan diaspora in Australia and what we could all do to support and stand in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan.

This is the first panel discussion in a two-part series, the second to take place in August, focusing on more of the legal technicalities of conflict and the extent of which international law provides protection for women and civilians more broadly in Afghanistan.

Panellists

Moderator: Felicity Gerry QC, Barrister Australia and UK

Professor Felicity Gerry QC is an international QC at Libertas Chambers, London and Crockett Chambers, Melbourne where she largely defends in serious and complex criminal trials and appeals, often with an international element. She is admitted to the lists of counsel for the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague and in England & Wales and in Australia (Victoria and the High Court Roll) and has had ad hoc admission in Hong Kong and Gibraltar. She has a particular research interest in women and the criminal law and reforming justice systems and has published research on human trafficking, modern slavery and coercion and compulsion as a criminal defence. Felicity is also Professor of Legal Practice at Deakin University where she lectures in MLL419/MLJ728 Contemporary International Legal Challenges – topics have included Modern Slavery Law, Terrorism Law, War Crimes and Climate Change law and she is involved in the clinical programs.

Sima Samar, Former Chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission

A Nobel Peace Prize nominee, renowned human rights advocate and an identified global influential female figure, Dr Sima Samar has dedicated her life to public service, humanitarian work and women’s empowerment. Since 2002 she has been the Chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) which holds human rights violators accountable and sets the human rights agenda in Afghanistan. Alongside this, Dr. Samar is the Chairperson of the Commission for the Prevention of Torture and was the Chairperson of Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (APF).

Prior to her appointment as the chair of AIHRC, she was the Vice President of the Interim Administration of Afghanistan and the first Minister of Women’s Affairs. Dr. Samar served as the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Sudan between 2005 and 2009 and has newly been appointed as a member of the United Nation’s Secretary-General’s High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation.

Habiba Sarabi, One of four women representatives of the Afghan Government at the Peace Negotiations

Dr Habiba Sarabi is a hematologist, politician, and reformer of the post-Taliban era in Afghanistan. In 2005, she was appointed as governor of Bamyan Province, becoming the first woman ever to be a provincial governor in the country.

Dr Sarabi served as Minister of Women's Affairs from 2002 to 2004. During the Taliban days, she worked as woman rights and education activist and taught girls and women in refugee camps in Pakistan. She joined Dr. Zalmai Rasul’s ticket as vice president in 2014 presidential elections and was the most prominent woman running in that year’s Elections. Upon formation of the National Unity Government, Sarabi served as advisor on women and youth to Dr Abdullah Abdullah, the Chief Executive of Afghanistan. She was then appointed as deputy to Afghanistan High Peace Council in 2016. Dr Sarabi is currently a member of the Government negotiation team with Taliban.

Metra Mehran, Founder of an NGO that supports young women to engage in the peace process

Metra Mehran is a young social entrepreneur with a particular interest in women’s empowerment and education. She is a Fulbright scholar, currently working with Women Scholarship Endowment Program- provide scholarships for women to pursues their education in STEM majors. She is also a fellow with the National Center for Dialogue and Peace, where she is focused on encouraging intergenerational exchange and uniting different points of views (urban and rural, young and old) for sustainable peace.

She co-founded the Feminine Perspectives Movement ahead of Intra-Afghan peace negotiations. The aim is to provide a platform for women across Afghanistan to raise their voice for the protection of their fundamental rights and to ensure women’s perspectives are reflected in peace negotiation processes.

Samira Hamedi, Women Human Rights Defenders - Amnesty International South Asia

Samira Hamidi is Regional Campaigner for Amnesty International South Asia Regional Office. Samira is holding Master of Advance Studies (MAS) in Mediation in Peace Process from ETH Zurich and Masters (LLM) in International Human Rights Law and Practice from University of York, UK.

Through her job with Amnesty International, she focuses on human rights, peace process, women’s rights and transitional justice issues in Afghanistan. Prior to joining, she has worked with the EU delegation in Afghanistan, Norwegian Embassy, UN Women, CMI, Folke Bernadette Academy and Sweden Embassy as Freelance Consultant focusing on human rights, women, peace and security and civil society issues. She has previously worked as Program and Advocacy Director at Empowerment Center for Women (ECW), Country Director for Afghan Women’s Network, Gender Coordinator with UNDP/ Ministry of Interior and Deputy Human Resources Director with the Ministry of Counter Narcotics. Samira has also chaired the board of Afghan Women’s Network and Human Rights Defenders Committee.

Other speakers

Jacqui True, Director Centre for Gender, Peace and Security

Jacqui True, FASSA, is Professor of International Relations and Director of Monash University’s Centre for Gender, Peace and Security. She is also a Global Fellow, Peace Research Institute (PRIO), Oslo and received her PhD from York University, Toronto, Canada, and an honorary doctorate from Lund University Sweden in 2018. Her research is focused on the Women, Peace and Security agenda: Understanding the political economy of violence against women, sexual and gender-based violence in conflict in Asia Pacific; and the gender dimensions of violent extremism and conflict. Her book, The Political Economy of Violence Against Women (Oxford, 2012) won the American Political Science Association’s 2012 biennial prize for the best book in human rights, among other prizes. Recently she published Violence against Women: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford, 2020). and with Sara E. Davies of The Oxford Handbook of Women, Peace and Security (2019). In 2021 Professor True was named one of the 100 most influential Persons in Gender Policy – for the gender-based violence area.

Azadah Raz Mohammad, PhD Candidate at Melbourne University

Azadah Raz Mohammad has an extensive work experience with International Organizations, the Government of Afghanistan and academia.

She has worked on humanitarian and human rights related projects in close collaboration with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and the Afghan Ministry of Justice amongst other. Besides, she has worked with the Administrative Office of Afghan President and as an adjunct lecturer of law at American University of Afghanistan.

Azadah is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Melbourne and holds an LL. M. in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights from University of Essex, and a second LL.M. in International Criminal Law as a Fulbright Scholar from Ohio State University.

Sitarah Mohammadi

Sitarah Mohammadi is a former Hazara refugee from Afghanistan, who spent 2019 as a Provost Scholar at the University of Oxford, undertaking studies in International Relations, and completed a dissertation on Australia’s refugee policy. She has a BA in International Relations and Human Rights, and is currently undertaking her Juris Doctor (Law) at Monash University Law School in Australia. (Twitter: @sitarah_m).

Sajjad Askary

Sajjad Askary is a former Hazara refugee, is a BA graduate in International Relations, and is a current student of Juris Doctor (Law) at Monash University Law School in Australia. He is a commentator on refugee rights, human rights, foreign policy, Afghanistan and Australia. (Twitter: @AskarySajjad).

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E-Mail: law-engagement@monash.edu

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Organiser Castan Centre for Human Rights Law

Organiser of Women and International Peace and Security in Afghanistan

The Castan Centre is a world-renowned academic centre using its human rights expertise to create a more just world where human rights are respected and protected, allowing people to pursue their lives in freedom and with dignity. The Centre’s innovative approach to public engagement and passion for human rights are redefining how an academic institution can create important and lasting change. The Centre is named after the late
Ron Castan AM QC, a passionate advocate of human rights.

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