By CID Staff

woman in blue walking in Afghan village
Badakhshan, Afghanistan

In August 2021, American troops left Afghanistan after a nearly 20-year occupation, allowing the Taliban to return to complete power and triggering a crisis with fears of reprisals, human rights abuses, and restrictions on women's rights. The resulting economic collapse, coupled with consecutive droughts and the suspension of development assistance, has led to a desperate situation for the people of Afghanistan.

“The progress made over two decades is now at risk, especially for women and girls,” reflect CID students Mohammed Alam Begi and Sara Bin Mahfooz. “Yet, there's hope in the resilience of the Afghan people and the dedication of humanitarian organizations that continue to deliver life-saving assistance. We cannot forget Afghanistan; we must stand with the Afghan people. One of the world's largest humanitarian crisis demands our support and determination for positive change.”

Road to GEM24
CID hosted Ambassador Adela Raz, former Ambassador of Afghanistan to the United States and current director of the Afghanistan Policy Lab at Princeton University on February 23, 2024.

Harvard Centers Sponsor “Spotlight Series on Afghanistan” 

In spring 2023, centers across Harvard University teamed up to put together a “Spotlight Series on Afghanistan,” a series of conversations and workshops spotlighting the situation in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. The series examined the multilayered facets of gender, human rights, economic development, humanitarian aid, and political dynamics that shape the lives of over 40 million Afghans today.  The “Spotlight Series on Afghanistan” was sponsored by the Center for International Development (CID), the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, the Center for Public Leadership, the Women and Public Policy Program (WAPPP) at Harvard Kennedy School, and the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute at Harvard.

The series included the following:

  • “Gender Rights and Public Policy: Reflections from Afghanistan & Pakistan” with Dr. Sima Sumar on February 16, 2023
  • “Political and Humanitarian Crisis in Afghanistan: Implications for Women and Girls” with Janti Soeripto and Naheed Esar on April 5, 2023. Watch the recording.
  • “Threats to Reproductive Rights Under Taliban Rule” workshop with Dr. Sima Samar on April 12, 2023
  • “Women’s Rights in Afghanistan: A Conversation with Sima Samar and Ken Roth” with Dr. Sima Samar and Kenneth Roth on April 18, 2023
  • “Retrograde: A Story of Afghan Persistence and Loss” with Baktash Ahadi, Lt. General Sami Sadat, Koshal Sadat, Thomas Kasza, and Laura Brisbane on April 21, 2023

In a reflection of the series, CID students Mohammed Alam Begi and Sara Bin Mahfooz summarized, “The speakers highlighted the importance of not forgetting Afghanistan. They emphasized the resilience and energy of the local people, particularly women who continue to work and find ways to overcome challenges despite difficult circumstances. They stressed that progress may not always be linear, but it is important to remain optimistic and continue working towards improving the situation in Afghanistan.”

Featured Speakers

Sima Samar headshot

Dr. Sima Samar

Former Minister of Women’s Affairs of Afghanistan

Janti Soeripto headshot

Janti Soeripto

CEO, Save the Children USA

Naheed Esar

Naheed Esar

Former Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister

Kenneth Roth headshot

Kenneth Roth

Former Executive Director of Human Rights Watch

Baktash Ahadi headshot

Baktash Ahadi

Filmmaker and human rights activist

Sami Sadat headshot

Lt. General Sami Sadat

Final Commander of Afghan Special Forces

Koshal Sadat headshot

Koshal Sadat

Deputy Interior Minister of Afghanistan

Thomas Kasza headshot

Thomas Kasza

U.S. Army Green Beret who served in Afghanistan

Laura Brisbane headshot

Laura Brisbane

Australian international lawyer and diplomat

E-learning can prevent another lost generation in Afghanistan

OpEd in Devex by Asim I. Khwaja and Fatema Z. Sumar from Harvard University's Center for International Development

credit: Mohammad Rahmani
Image Credits

Image of Badakhshan, Afghanistan is from Joel Heard.

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