A delegation of eight high-ranking Afghan women officials visited Washington DC last week to discuss their country’s progress in women’s equality, fiscal reforms, peace efforts and foreign relations. The delegates included:
- Adela Raz, Deputy Minister for Economic Affairs for the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Naheed Sarabi, Deputy Minister for Policy for the Afghan Ministry of Finance
- Ghazaal Habibyar-Safi, Deputy Minister for the Afghan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum
- Shararzad Akbar, Senior Advisor for the President of Afghanistan on High Councils
- Naheed Esar, Director of Policy and Analysis for the Administrative Office of the President of Afghanistan
- Ghizaal Haress Commissioner for the Independent Commission for Overseeing the Implementation of the Constitution of Afghanistan
- Muqaddesa Yourish, Commissioner of the Independent Administrative Reforms and Civil Service
- Zohra Nawabi, member of the Provincial Council of Kabul Province.
The delegation started their visit at The Brookings Institution, a leading public policy non-profit organization. While there, the Afghan delegates lead a discussion about the new generation of women leaders of Afghanistan, including their responsibilities, stories, and current women’s achievements and struggles within their country. The event was hosted by the Foreign Policy program at Brookings, in collaboration with the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security and the U.S. and the U.S. Afghan Women’s Council.
During this event, the delegates shared their personal stories of growing up in Afghanistan or as refugees, as well as their work on bringing positive changes in Afghanistan. When asked how hopeful delegates are about their country’s future, most of their responses were above 80 percent. They mentioned that change is slow, but it is happening. They encouraged the audience not to only rely on media and press, but also positive stories of Afghans. According to Commissioner Ghizaal Haress, “People’s views in Afghanistan towards girls’ education have changed. [Positive thinking] to encouragement of young girls to attend school and pursue an education at the highest levels have increased.” They also noted that the younger generation in Afghanistan cannot be forgotten or ignored since they are committed to advancing social justice, human rights, and resisting terrorism within the country.
When they were asked about what the U.S. did right and wrong in Afghanistan, Deputy Economic Affairs Minister Adela Raz answered that it was wrong for the U.S. to announce withdrawing from Afghanistan, but she supported the U.S. recent decision to stay with Afghanistan to fight terrorism, because according to her it gives a strong message to the Taliban and gives more hope to Afghans to move forward. When asked about effectiveness of Promote for Afghan women, Minister Raz suggested that donors should stop looking for short term results. She advised the audience, “Let’s stop thinking of Afghan women as victims and recipients of help and support that you think they are just survivors, start to think about them as your partners.”
The Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington DC hosted the delegation to meet with US government officials, Members of Congress, and media outlets to further discuss the country’s social, political, and economic reforms. They also went to the US Capitol to talk with members of Congress about security, education, reform, and the way forward in Afghanistan with the U.S. support.
After a jam packed week full of public and private engagements, interviews, and meetings, the team ended their last day of visit in Washington DC at the United States Institute of Peace where they spoke about the government’s reform agenda, regional economic connectivity and more.