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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.
Your organization, The Afghan Women’s Organization for Research, Learning and Development (AWORLD), focuses on “the sustainable development of women.” Tell us more about what you do and why it’s important to building a peaceful Afghanistan.
The Afghan people, like all other citizens of the world, deserve to live in a peaceful society where they can advance educationally, grow economically, and lead a desired social and political life. Peace will nurture an environment for Afghans to lead in a pluralistic society under a unified constitution. The external dimension of peace is also critical for the world.
Afghanistan’s geopolitical position makes it a strategic location for global security, and its regional connectivity and natural resources make it a great contributor to the global economy. Any further instability in Afghanistan will have universal consequences. Thus, investment in peace will yield gains for the international community.
AWORLD focuses on the socioeconomic advancement of women through the pillars of research and learning, economic development, voice and representation, and women’s empowerment. We believe that equality is only achieved when women are economically self-sufficient. Investing in and empowering women will result in a resilient labor force, healthy families, and cohesive communities to counteract terrorism, a bottleneck to Afghanistan’s peace and stability.
Afghan youth also offer a great window of opportunity. We support emerging female leaders through mentorship and connect them to international female leaders. And lastly, we establish social support systems to connect, inform, and advocate for women’s protection and participation in Afghanistan.
Why is it important that Afghan women be included in peace talks?
The Taliban regime’s rule is the darkest period of Afghan history for women. We do not desire to experience it again. That’s why one of the four pillars of my organization is empowering women.
Women make up 49 percent of the Afghan population. These peace talks are critical discussions laying out the foundation for Afghanistan’s future. We cannot neglect half of the society and their definition of stability and prosperity.
Furthermore, the international community has also invested in promoting and supporting the empowerment of women. For the past 17 years, a massive amount of resources has been spent on turning women into critical partners and participants in Afghanistan’s development.
To date, Afghanistan’s democracy and safeguarding human rights have not been seriously discussed. Women are the ones mostly impacted by the outcomes of these topics. Their participation in the peace talks will ensure their voices are heard and their freedoms are protected.