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Webinar: Protecting Health for Women and Girls in Afghanistan

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This webinar will highlight the voices of experts working in health, gender equality, human rights, and activism in Afghanistan. We hope to assess the impact of recent events in Afghanistan on women and girls, particularly on their access to quality health care services. We will explore the role of the global community in protecting girls’ and women’s access to healthcare, hoping to catalyze action and foster collaboration among CSOs, advocates, policymakers, donors, and international institutions. Let’s talk what we know and what we can do!

DATE AND TIME: Thursday, October 7, 2021, 10:00AM Eastern Standard Time

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Panelists will include:

Dr. Vineeta Gupta, Director, ACTION Secretariat

Dr. Vineeta Gupta is a maternal and child health physician, human rights advocate, and a passionate activist for health equity. She has over 20 years of tri-sector experience in leading and supporting projects in more than 25 countries. Before ACTION, Vineeta served as the director at Global Health Advocacy Incubator, leading their work on Resolve to Save Lives. She has held senior positions with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, University Research Co., Global Fund for Children, Campaign on Microbicides, and Global AIDS Alliance.

Vineeta has conducted workshops on diversity, inclusion, and health disparities and has been invited to speak in over 60 universities in the U.S and Europe. She has successfully built multisectoral collaborations engaging diverse stakeholders to achieve results. She served on the national council of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) in India. She investigated and reported numerous human rights violations and corruption cases, undertook public interest litigations built upon data and evidence, and published papers on health and human rights. India’s National Human Rights Commission intervened when she faced threats to her life that continued for many years. She received the “Rotary Service to Humanity Award 2001” in recognition of her work in health and human rights and for upholding ethical standards in society. She is widely covered in print and online media and T.V. globally, including Washington Post, The Economic Times, The Hindu, Times of India, Hindustan Times, China Daily, National Public Radio, CNN, and Voice of America.

Vineeta developed curriculum and adult training materials for Basic Emergency Obstetrics and Newborn Care (BEmONC) for the capacity strengthening of health providers in Uganda. She also co-authored many capacity-building materials, including professional association strengthening modules and complications of labor and birth.

Vineeta is fluent in four languages. She obtained a medical degree and a law degree in India and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Master’s degree in International Human Rights Law from Notre Dame University in the U.S.

 

Heather Barr, Director, Women’s Rights Division, Human Rights Watch

Heather Barr is the interim co-director of the Women's Rights Division at Human Rights Watch. She has done research in countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, and Papua New Guinea, on issues including child marriage, girls’ education, violence against women, refugee and prisoners’ rights, and trafficking. She joined Human Rights Watch in 2011 as the Afghanistan researcher, after working for the United Nations in Afghanistan and Burundi. After law school she litigated for discharge planning for prisoners with psychosocial disabilities in New York City, and founded an alternative-to-incarceration program. Before law school, she worked with homeless women. She is a graduate of London School of Economics, Columbia Law School, and John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

 

Dr. Sadiqa Basiri, Co-founder and Board Member, Oruj Learning Center; CEO, Oruj Institute of Higher education

Sadiqa Basiri is a modern-day pioneer in the education of girls and women in Afghanistan.  After spending 18 years as a refugee, Sadiqa Basiri returned to her native Afghanistan to support the rebuilding efforts through education. She has established six primary schools, four adult literacy centers and has trained over180 teachers on pedagogy in rural areas where girls didn’t have a school before. She has opened the Family Welfare Center for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, a domestic violence prevention project that has served over 14,000 women, trained government workers, and engaged spiritual leaders in safeguarding women’s rights.

After receiving BA in international relations and politics from Mount Holyoke College in 2009, Sadiqa returned home and founded a community college for women to receive training in management, leadership, and advocacy skills. She later transitioned the two-year program to Afghanistan’s first and only non-profit social enterprise four-year degree-granting college, Oruj Institute of Higher Education. Currently, over 900 young men and women from all over Afghanistan receive low-cost, quality higher education in Kabul. 

In addition to her work with Oruj, Sadiqa has assumed decision making roles with several other local and international organizations such as Women Thrive Worldwide, the University of Calgary, University of Massachusetts, Afghan Women’s Network, Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), and Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA).         

For her work, Sadiqa has received numerous honors from various organizations, including but not limited to the Vital Voices Global Partnership, Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts Teachers’ Association, and Huntington Public Service Award. She has a master’s in communication from the University of Ottawa, a master’s in advanced teaching from the University of the People, and is pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership at Western University in Canada.

 

Negaya Chorley, CEO, Results International Australia

Negaya Chorley has 20 years of experience in human rights. She is passionate about creating spaces for people at the margins to inform policy-making at the local, national and global level.

Negaya has worked with communities in Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands towards this aim; bringing together policymakers and representatives from often marginalized groups (women, children, refugees, people living with HIV and Aboriginal leaders) to collectively shape solutions.

Negaya has led a number of organizations spanning refugees, youth development, and women’s rights in addition to leading UNICEF Australia and Caritas Australia’s policy influencing work. As a passionate believer in values-based leadership, she works hard to carve out and create environments within which staff and colleagues can thrive.

Negaya holds a BA Hons in International Development from the University of East Anglia, a Masters in International Development Policy from Duke University and Graduate Certificates in Peace and Conflict Resolution and Non-Profit Leadership from the University of North Carolina.

 

Wazhma Frogh, Women, Peace and Security Expert

Wazhma Frogh is a peacebuilding expert and lifetime campaigner for Afghan women and girls from Afghanistan with over 10 years of mediation and conflict resolution experience. The president of Afghanistan appointed her to the country’s High Peace Council to mediate the peace negotiations with the Taliban during 2017 and 2018. She, along with other key mediators, initiated the first National Dialogue in Afghanistan that contributed towards the historical three-day ceasefire by the Taliban. In 2012, she founded the Women and Peace Studies Organization which advises the government negotiation team on the perspectives of communities and implements local community-based peacebuilding initiatives in Afghanistan led by women. She has also carried out a number of dispute resolution practices resolving disputes around water, land, and other resources between communities.

Wazhma has focused some of her fieldwork on Traditional Dispute Resolution Mechanisms along with Human Rights Watch and documentation of the local conflicts in Afghanistan that provided context and foundation for the government’s first Traditional Dispute Resolution Mechanisms Law. From 2016-2018, Wazhma was elected co-chair of the Women, Peace and Security Working Group for the implementation of the National Action Plan on U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325, a joint platform of UNWOMEN, international community, and Afghan government.

Wazhma is a Postgraduate Fellow in International Development and Human Rights Law at the University of Warwick, England and a graduate of the American University of Afghanistan.

 

Gulalai Ismail, Founder, Aware Girls, Pakistan

Gulalai Ismail is the founder and Chairperson of Aware Girls, a young women-led organization working towards gender equality and peace, which she established at the age of 16. With over 13 years of experience in human rights and peace work, her range of work includes drafting policies and implementing projects across a range of young women’s empowerment work, including: women’s human rights issues, gender-based violence, girls’ education, countering violent extremism, peacebuilding, governance, and organizational strengthening, young women’s political and economic empowerment, legal advocacy, and advocating at national and UN level for youth and peacebuilding, grants management, and capacity building of Civil Society Organizations.

In 2009, she established a Youth Peace Network in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and Afghanistan to counter violent extremism through promoting peace activism among young people. Her work is characterized by promoting peace and pluralism; challenging religious extremism and militancy; promoting good governance in areas stricken by militancy, providing civic education to young people; strengthening democracy; and political mainstreaming of young women.

She received the 2009 YouthActionNet Fellowship, 2012 International Democracy Award, 2014 Humanist of the Year Award, and the 2015 CommonWealth Youth Award for her extraordinary efforts in building peace, gender equality, and development. She has been recognized among 100 Leading Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy, 2013 and among “30 Under 30” youth activists by National Endowment for Democracy, USA.

 

Dr. Luwei Pearson, Associate Director and Chief, MNCAH, UNICEF

Dr. Luwei Pearson is Associate Director and Chief of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health Section at UNICEF New York Headquarters and has worked with UNICEF for over 20 years at HQ, regional and country levels. In 2013, Dr. Pearson received special recognition from Government of Ethiopia for contributions to strengthening primary health care.

An expert in strengthening primary health care with a focus on maternal, newborn and child health programmes, Dr. Pearson has worked in China, Pakistan, Nepal, Ethiopia, Hong Kong and United States with UN agencies, CSOs, and Academia.

A pediatrician by training, Dr. Pearson has additional masters degrees in biochemistry, virology and epidemiology and has contributed to over 15 publications /journal articles. Dr. Pearson speaks English and Chinese, and would welcome short conversations in Amharic, Hindi, Nepali and Urdu.