Farhat Popal serves as Senior Program Manager, Women's Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute. In this role, Farhat leads the WE Lead program and is responsible for research and programmatic efforts that empower women worldwide to lead in their communities and countries.
Farhat studied Political Science/International Relations and History of the Near East at the University of California, San Diego. She earned a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to joining the Bush Institute, she worked on human rights programs in Afghanistan and Central Asia at the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor in Washington, DC, and evaluated reconstruction projects in Afghanistan with the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. While with SIGAR, she spent considerable time conducting field work at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. In addition to her international work, Farhat evaluated the effectiveness and efficiency of local government programs at the City of San Diego and City of Oakland’s Offices of the City Auditor.
Related Articles and Resources
Policy Recommendations: Empowering Women Worldwide
Advancing the rights of women in the Middle East, North Africa, and the world
Q&A with WE Lead Scholar Nadia Behboodi
Nadia Behboodi, a 2019 WE Lead Scholar from Afghanistan, is CEO of the Afghan Women’s Organization for Research, Learning, and Development. She volunteers with Seeds of Change, a network of professional women and men standing for female leadership at all levels, and manages Afghanistan’s first circle of the Lean In network, which promotes female empowerment.
Why WE Lead: A Conversation with Abdulwahab Alkebsi and Greg Simpson of CIPE
In this Q&A, CIPE’s Managing Director for Programs Abdulwahab Alkebsi and Regional Director for the MENA region Greg Simpson spoke about the importance of market reforms.
Why WE Lead: Series Introduction
Women are the movers and shakers of the Middle East, North Africa, and Afghanistan. They are increasingly stepping forward, into jobs and leadership roles, to spearhead the future of their countries.
Heartache and Hope: A Reaction to the Attack in Tunisia
Monday's terror attack in Tunisia was a stark reminder of the challenges and obstacles faced by our WE Lead Scholars and many others across their regions.
In Case You Missed It: The Breadwinner, an animated film about the strength and resilience of Afghan women and girls, premieres in the U.S.
The Breadwinner, a new animated film from executive producer Angelina Jolie, tells the story of Parvana, an 11-year-old girl growing up under the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001. When her father is wrongfully arrested, Parvana disguises herself as a boy in order to support her family. With dauntless perseverance, Parvana draws strength from the stories her father told her, and ultimately risks her life to discover if he is still alive. The Breadwinner is an inspiring reminder of the power of stories, and their potential to unite and heal us all. It also provides an important spotlight on the struggle endured by Afghan families during the Taliban regime and the resilience of women and girls and their influence in building a brighter future for Afghanistan. Last year, the Bush Institute released We Are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope, which spotlights more of these courageous stories of Afghan women. Learn more about the book and our work by visiting:&nb
“Voice of Hope” Dr. Sakeena Yacoobi Awarded 2017 Sunhak Peace Prize
Dr. Sakeena Yacoobi, founder and executive director of the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) and one of 29 inspiring individuals featured in the Bush Institute’s book, We are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope, has been selected for the 2017 Sunhak Peace Prize for her more than 20 years of work as an educator and humanitarian. The Sunhak Peace Prize was established to honor individuals who make significant contributions to address worldwide suffering, conflict, poverty, and threats to the environment by promoting a comprehensive, future-oriented vision of peace. In Afghanistan, Dr. Yacoobi has done just that. After the Taliban closed girls’ schools in the 1990s, Dr. Yacoobi’s AIL supported 80 underground home schools for 3,000 girls. Today, the organization rebuilds education and health systems in Afghanistan as well as provides emergency and legal aid. Seventy percent of AIL’s beneficiaries are women, and the organization is run mainly by female leadership. In ad
From Dallas to Kabul, Girls Can Code
The Bush Institute’s Women’s Initiative team recently sat down with Dialexa, a Dallas-based technology company that offers holistic product development services, to learn more about our shared interest in advancing opportunities for women and girls in Afghanistan. Sixty-three percent of the population of Afghanistan is under the age of 25 and like most millennials, despite lacking technology infrastructure, they remain hungry for innovation and opportunity. Nourishing this appetite in tandem with gender empowerment, Dallas-based companies Dialexa and Vinli are helping to foster the talent and tenacity of high school girls interested in computer programming through a partnership with the Womanity Foundation. Launched by Womanity in April 2016, “Girls Can Code” is a vocational program in two of the largest girls’ public high schools in Kabul, Afghanistan with the approval of the Ministry of Education. The intent of the program is to increase employment ra
What Tomorrow Brings
Razia Jan, one of 28 inspiring women in "We Are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope," and her brave efforts to educate girls in Afghanistan are featured in a new PBS documentary.
In Case You Missed It: Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team Takes the Court in Kabul
October 18th marked the beginning of the annual wheelchair basketball season for women with disabilities in Kabul, Afghanistan. For the last five years, the International Committee of the Red Cross has been putting on these tournaments as a way to help men and women with disabilities get back on their feet. For Afghan women, this is not only sport – it leads to empowerment and confidence. In the words of one female athlete, Nilofar, "I will continue working here and playing basketball. Even if I feel I can't carry on, I won't give up. I'll encourage and train other disabled girls to do sport, because they can make changes to their lives too. They have the same rights as any other person." Hers is a story of resilience, like so many other Afghan women who are fighting hardship with grace and determination. To learn more about Afghan women using sport to transform their lives and the lives of others, please see the story of Kobra Dastgirzada in We Are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope
In Case You Missed It: Brussels Conference discusses the importance of empowering Afghan women
This week marked the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, co-hosted by the European Union and the government of Afghanistan. The Conference brought together more than 70 countries and 20 international organizations and agencies to discuss Afghanistan’s new national development framework, ongoing reform efforts, and regional activities to support peace and economic cooperation. Donors pledged over $15 billion in aid at the Conference, signaling a commitment to Afghanistan’s future by the international community. A vital part of that future is the political, social, and economic empowerment of Afghan women. During the Conference, a side event titled “Empowered Women, Prosperous Afghanistan” focused on the political and human rights of Afghan women, as well as socio-economic empowerment. The panelists discussed positive developments in country as well as enduring challenges faced by Afghan women and girls. Participants also outlined the Afghan government’s pl
The Death of Uzbekistan’s Dictator: What It Means
Last week—the 25th anniversary of Uzbekistan’s independence—saw his death from an apparent brain hemorrhage. As the country prepares for its first transition of power since independence, here are a few points to consider.
In Case You Missed It: Mrs. Lael Mohib, wife of Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the U.S., Writes on Recent Attack at American University of Afghanistan
On August 24, thirteen Afghans lost their lives during an attack on the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul. In a poignant and passionate New York Times op-ed, Lael Mohib describes the violence as “An Attack on Afghanistan’s Future.” Calling attention to the significance of education in combatting violence and injustice, Mrs. Mohib highlights the invaluable hope and leadership of Afghanistan’s next generation and their influence on the country’s future. Mrs. Mohib is the founder and director of the Enabled Children Initiative, former chief of staff at the American University of Afghanistan, and spouse of Afghanistan’s ambassador to the United States, Dr. Hamdullah Mohib. For more information on the Bush Institute’s work to amplify the voices of Afghan women, please see http://www.bushcenter.org/explore-our-work/fostering-policy/afghan-womens-project.html.
Afghan Girls in Global Robotics Competition are Afghanistan’s Future
Over 160 teams are competing this year in the FIRST Global robotics challenge, and Afghanistan’s team has overcome a number of obstacles to be a part of the competition.
What’s Happening in Afghanistan?
While there have been tremendous gains in Afghanistan, lack of security threatens these gains daily.
What Happens When Men and Women See Equal Rights at Home Differently
A new poll by the George W. Bush Institute, Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, and Freedom House shows no significant gap between men and women’s views on promotion of human rights and democracy abroad. However, there is a clear divide between men and women’s perceptions of equal rights at home, and between men and women’s perceptions of the health of our own democracy.