WRN BOARD MEMBERS
Farhat Asif is the founding President of Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies and the Co-Founder Editor of Pakistan’s first multilingual Monthly Magazine 'The Diplomatic Insight' having theme objective of peace through informed dialogue. She has over 12 years of experience working in academic, research and development sector, and earned MSc in International Relations and MPhil in Defense and Strategic Studies from Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. She is researcher, analyst, writer, publisher, media planner and diplomatic relations professional. Her research interests are peace, conflict and development studies. She is author and co-author of several books. Farhat is federal member of Aman-o-Nisa: Pakistan Women’s Coalition Against Extremism and is Pakistan’s representative of Sisters Against Violent Extremism (SAVE), a project by Women Without Borders.
Judge Najla Ayoubi
Najla Ayoubi is a lawyer and former judge and has extensive experience in judiciary, elections, human rights and women’s empowerment. She is a civil society and human rights activist. She served as a Legal Advisor for the State Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs of Afghanistan, Commissioner at the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan and Commissioner of Joint Electoral Management Body, Constitution making process. She was the Senior State Attorney at the Attorney General Office of Afghanistan, State Attorney of the Parwan province, and Judge at the Parwan Provincial Court. She worked with The Asia Foundation Afghanistan in different capacities. She served as a Board Member of Open Society Afghanistan as well as the Country Director of Open Society Afghanistan (OSF representative office in Afghanistan). She was Board member of AWN and is currently she is a Global Advisory Board Member of Women’s Regional Network (WRN), and Board Member of WANA, AREU and AEPO, and Steering Committee Member of Tawanmandi. Ms. Ayoubi has two MA degrees: one on Law and Politics from State University of Tajikistan and another on Post War Recovery and Development Studies from York University of United Kingdom. She is former Deputy Country Representative of The Asia Foundation, Afghanistan Office. Najla Ayoubi has also been appointed as the 2015 Peacemaker at the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego.
Abha Bhaiya is one of the founding members of Jagori, a feminist organization set up in 1984 in Delhi. She has been active in women’s movements in India for more than 30 years. She has worked on a range of issues including women’s socio, political, and economic rights, the status of single women, women’s right to health bodily integrity and well-being, sex and sexualities, against militarization, fundamentalisms and increasing erosion of civil rights, food securities and livelihoods. Her major contribution has been in the field of feminist training methodologies and conducting feminist trainings for multiple constituencies and in many different country contexts. She is the founder-member of Nishtha, a NGO that works on rural health; a member of FREA, a documentation/research center in Mumbai; a member of Ankur, an educational center for women and children in New Delhi; a founder-member of Olakh, a women’s resource center in Gujarat; and also a founder-member of Mahila Samakhya’s national resource group.
Patricia Cooper has over 45 years of private and public sector experience. She served for eight years as a senior executive appointee to advise the Canadian government on the effects of Federal legislation on women and children, while managing two offices in Western Canada. She was a founding member of The Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund to achieve equality for women through education and litigation under a new Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom. Pat was Executive-Director of the Children’s Museum of Denver, leading a major financial turnaround while redirecting the mission to focus on early childhood education. Pat served 10 years as Director of Pathfinders International, providing reproductive health and rights in over 30 countries. Pat currently serves on the Board of Capital Sisters International, a micro-finance innovation and the Advisory Board of the Colorado Women’s College at the University of Denver. She serves on the Leadership Board for the Women’s Studies in Religion Program at Harvard University. Pat founded the Women’s Regional Network: Afghanistan, Pakistan and India and has been the sole pro-bono convener since 2010. Pat has been guiding the expansion of this network model among 7 countries in Latin America and now 5 countries in East Africa with a focus on peace and security. Pat also conceived and co-authored the initial concept paper to establish the Inclusive Global Leadership Initiative at the Korbel School for International Relations at DU. This initiative focuses on women’s role in non-violent civil resistance movements. Ms. Cooper has two Masters Degrees in Public Administration and Global Studies and is a Fellow at the Center for International Affairs at Harvard University.
Nimalka Fernando of Sri Lanka is a prominent human rights defender, lawyer and activist with over 30 years of peacemaking experience. She is a co-chair of South Asians for Human Rights and the president of the International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) — an organization dedicated to eliminating discrimination and racism, forging international solidarity among discriminated minorities, and advancing the international human rights system. Nimalka has been a founding member of several organizations, including a network of women’s organizations and activists committed to peacebuilding, known as Mothers and Daughters of Lanka. In 2011 she received the Citizen’s Peace Award from the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka.
Rita Manchanda is a researcher, writer and human rights advocate, specialising in conflicts and peace building in South Asia with particular attention to vulnerable and marginalised groups --women, minorities and forcibly displaced persons. She has been influential in shaping the regional Women Peace and Security scholarly and policy discourse. For over two decades she has been a participatory action researcher and policy advocate on role of civil society, especially women’s collectives in negotiating conflict and building peace in South Asia. Her multiple publications: books and articles reflect these concerns as evinced in V volume multi-country field based peace audits: “SAGE Series in Human Rights Audits of Peace Processes", “Women War and Peace in South Asia: Beyond Victimhood to Agency “, and ‘Women and the Politics of Peace: Narratives of Militarisation, Power and Justice”. She has been Executive Director of South Asia Forum for Human Rights and is currently Consulting Research Director at SAFHR. Her policy and practitioner expertise was honed when she was Gender Adviser, Commonwealth Technical Fund , Consultant with UN Women , Centre for Humanitarian Dialogues , and SAFERWORLD . She is an experienced guest lecturer on Peace, Conflict and Gender Studies at Universities in India and overseas. She has been among the founders of the Women’s Regional Network and is committed to thinking and acting regionally. The value of foregrounding the Life Narratives of women in conflict and peacebuilding has been a cornerstone of her work. She is presently a member of the Board from India. She works with multiple women’s rights, civil society and social justice and peace groups in the region.
Rukshanda is the torch-bearer of the struggle for women’s rights in Pakistan in general and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Tribal Areas in particular and continues her efforts to ensure women’s due rights in a male-dominated society in Pakistan. Her vast experience in the development sector and equally important support for press freedom and freedom of expression brought her close to the journalist community and she stood by journalists whenever free press in Pakistan was under attack. She served one of the country’s leading civil society organization for women’s rights, Aurat Foundation, as Resident Director from May 1993-May 2008. She also headed the UN Women in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) from September 2010 to November 2012. Her quest for knowledge does not end with one degree as she obtained her LLM from Coventry University.
Saumya Uma currently works as an Associate Professor at O.P. Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India. She teaches and researches at the intersection of gender, human rights and the law. Dr. Uma has over 25 years’ combined work experience as an academic, law researcher, lawyer, trainer, writer and campaigner. She has taught at top-ranking law schools in the country, and has served as a research consultant on human rights, with international agencies such as the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP), United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (UNOHCHR) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ). She has a vast experience in engaging with a variety of international and national actors and institutions including universities, non-profit organizations, UN agencies, parlimentarians and bureaucrats from India and abroad, legal fraternity, the police and the judiciary. She has a plethora of publications addressing, in particular, state responsibility towards women and other people at the margins. Dr. Uma’s research and writing focusses on gender based violence and reparative justice, feminist jurisprudence, international criminal justice and its relevance to India, victim and witness protection, justice and accountability for mass crimes, freedom of religion, South Asian women’s movements and feminist envisioning of justice, human rights law and lawyering, access to justice, and social exclusion and marginalization. Apart from being a Board member of Women’s Regional Network and a core member of the WRN-India chapter, she is a member of the Board of Governors at Indo-Global Social Service Society, a life member of Indian Association of Women’s Studies and member of European Association for South Asian Studies.
Zarqa is the Head of the Women and Children Legal research Foundation. With WCLRF she has written several Research reports, manuals on women’s rights such as women’s access to justice, early marriages, women’s political participation and violence against women. She is engaged with a number of institutions such as a Founding Member or Board Member such as Afghan Women Coalition Anti-corruption, Afghan Women’s Network and the Civil society Human Rights Network.
FORMER BOARD MEMBERS
Clare Lockhart is the co-founder and director of the Institute for State Effectiveness. ISE focuses practical approaches to transformation of societies from instability to stability and prosperity, through balancing state, market and civil society dimensions. ISE’s Market Building Program focuses specifically on concepts for regenerating economic growth and creation of job and enterprise opportunities. From 2001 through 2005, Clare was UN Adviser to the Bonn Agreement in Afghanistan and subsequently served as adviser to a number of organizations and governments. Prior to 2001, she managed a program on Institutions at the World Bank. Clare is the co-author of “Fixing Failed States” and writes and lectures on these topics and is a frequent contributor to the media including the BBC, CNN, PBS, Sky News, the New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times and Prospect. The World Economic Forum and one of the Top Global Thinkers of 2009 and 2010 selected Ms. Lockhart for the 2011 Forum of Young Global Leaders by Foreign Policy magazine.
Kishwar Sultana is a peace activist, trainer, researcher, an artist, advisor and founder of several bodies working on women’s rights, improved governance, gender equality and peace and security. In her professional career of 16 years she has managed several projects and programs as a director. Currently, she is working as a Director of an NGO, Insan Foundation Trust whose programs mainly focus on women’s empowerment and youth leadership in peace building. Kishwar is member of the Steering Committee of the Women’s Regional Network (WRN) on Security and Corruption-a network of women peace activists from Pakistan, India and Afghanistan; Women Waging Peace Network; Afghanistan/Pakistan Peace Dialogue Forum, Provincial Board of Governors (BoG), Local Council Association of the Punjab (LCAP), Kishwar has served as a member of the International Working Group on Women, Peace and Security during 2011-2012. She is also member of the Provincial CEDAW Committee of Civil Society Organizations and Ending Violence Against Women and Girls Alliance (EVAWGA). Kishwar is the author of numerous booklets. She is also an artist and illustrator of children’s books on account of her natural talent. She holds a master’s degree in geography from the University of the Punjab. She is the first female of her family who pushed her way through to college education and then employment.
Massouda Kohistani had complete Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree in Maiwand Higher Education University. I have got more than years of research experience, and involved to different project. That AREU envisions an Afghanistan where policy decisions are made on the basis of evidence, open debate, and widespread public awareness in the belief that this will better reflect the priorities of the Afghan people and give rise to more informed policies and programs.
Lima Anwari did her bachelor’s degree in Islamic law of Kabul University and obtained her master’s degree from Kardan University in the specialized filed of leadership and management. she is equipped with almost 9 years’ work experience devoted to management, policy development, gender issues, human rights, juvenile justice, training/mentoring and legal affairs with various national (Afghan Women Network) and international organizations (Justice Sector Support Program, UN Women, USAID Promote Project, and International Development Law Organization).
Ms. Forozan Rasooli is a civil society and peace activist. She is currently working as the Deputy Director at Equality for Peace and Democracy (EPD). She completed her postgraduate studies through UK’s prestigious Chevening scholarship in 2016. Ms. Forozan holds master degree (with merit) in Public Administration from Portsmouth University of United Kingdom. Ms. Rasooli has more than 10 years of working experience on different projects with national and international organizations including United Nations (UN), Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), International Relief Development (IRD), Deloitte and Bearing point. Besides, she is the member of USAID Promote: Musharikat’s peace and security coalition, member of advocacy committee on women political participation and member advocacy group for resolving the challenges faced by the civil societies. Ms. Rasooli has expert knowledge in the subjects of women empowerment, good governance, human rights, humanitarian assistance and building peace and security. She has advocated and raised the awareness of women and youth on their rights and tirelessly struggled to increase women, youth and CSO engagement at the community level for improving local service delivery. Besides, she is one of the officially assigned delegate for representing the CSOs at the Geneva Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan.
Nabila Noori is working with EQUALITY for Peace and Democracy (EPD) as Program Specialist. Ms. Noori has academic and professional background holding a Master’s degree in Business Administration (Human Resource Management) and she has more than nine years of professional work experience in the field of Management, Human Resources, Public Relation, Advocacy, Program and Evaluation. She has also experience in Sales and Marketing for organizing and conducting the events. She has also done her BA in Business Administration & Economic Faculty at Rana University of Afghanistan in 2013. Recently, she is doing Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) at American University of Afghanistan. Before that, she worked in managerial positions at national and international organizations. Furthermore, Ms. Noori is a well-known women's rights and civil society activist in Afghanistan.In addition, Ms. Noori is the member of Afghan Women Network, Women Regional Network and member of women committee for Aga Khan National Council in Afghanistan. She has also attended many international conferences in different countries such as Pakistan, India and Tajikistan.
Amina Mayar is an Afghan journalist with experience of more than a decade in journalism and civil movements. She has acquired her higher education in Literature from Kabul university and is currently Chief editor of Mursal weekly magazine, news broad caster and Killid Sobh producer and announcer. Ms Mayar has represented Afghanistan in different national and international platforms. She speaks Dari, Pashtu, English, Urdu and Russian.
Fariha Easar has done her Bachelor in Law and Political Science (BA) faculty of Kabul University, Master of Business Administration (MBA), Management and Leadership at Kardan University. She works with US Embassy, International Narcotics Law Enforcement (INL) as Project Management Specialist and as a Gender, Child and Human Rights Section Lead at Justice Sector Support Program (JSSP) / INL.She has also worked as a Legal Advisor, Senior Legal Advisor and a Team Leader at JSSP/ INL. In addition, she worked as a Legal Trainer at Hamida Barmak's Foundation and a Legal Fellow at Global Rights. She has been a teacher at a number of schools for girls and she has been involved in different cultural and social activities in Afghanistan. Easar is a member of Consultancy Board of Solidarity of Afghan Women Activists Organization and she was a member of Afghan Youth Parliament. She has conducted field research on Women and Leadership and gender issues and is a human rights activist.
Freshta Karimi is the Founder and Director of Da Qanoon Ghushtonky (DQG – Seeker of Law), one of the largest legal aid service organizations in Afghanistan. She received her Law degree in 2011 from Payam-e-Noor University in Kabul. She has dedicated her career to improving access to justice and promoting women and children’s rights. She is also a member of several groups advocating policy changes and has traveled extensively internationally representing her organization and promoting various women’s rights issues and highlighting the concerns of Afghan women.As an activist from the ‘new generation’ of Afghan women, Ms. Karimi has already affected change within her own organization and is committed to building a more secure and safe country for vulnerable groups.Ms. Karimi has worked to increase communities’ legal public awareness at the district and provincial levels, utilizing the publication of a variety of popular legal awareness materials. her commendable efforts to promote gender equality and to empower women were recognized when the Danish Government awarded her a Millennium Development Goal 3 (MDG 3) Champion Torch in 2010. MDG 3 aims to address gender equity in education, to increase the share of women in employment and to increase the role of women in leadership roles including in Parliamentary and Government roles.
Humira Saqib has done her bachelor in Psychology from Kabul University, she is a leading Afghan journalist and a women's human rights activist. Her writings have been published in the magazine Negah-e-Zan (A Vision of Women) and in Afghan Women's News Agency. She has also worked in several key positions in various media and developmental organizations.Humira holds membership at Afghan Civil Society Election Network, Peace and Security Committee in UN-WOMEN, Media Assistance Compliance and researches commission, Women Peace and Security In South Asia, Entrepreneur Women, Women Journalist Association, Afghanistan Women Political Corporations, Women Leadership Assembly, Afghan Women Coordination Network, Management Board Of Afghan Women Coordination in EURO. She has received several awards and certificates. She has also attended many conferences all over the globe such as IVLP World Youth Leadership Program in USA, Women and Peace Conference in Sri Lanka, Bonn Conference and Peace Conference in Thailand.
Maryam is a well known women's rights activist and civil society leader in Afghanistan. In 2002 she established the Afghan Women’s Resource Center’s Afghanistan office in Kabul. Under her leadership, the office has grown from a staff of eight in 2002 to a current staff of 140, 80% of whom are women.
Najla Raheel is a well-known lawyer in Afghanistan at the Law Services Office Firm. She works from a gendered perspective and defends various cases against women many times in a pro-bono capacity. Most recently she is best known as one of the youngest lawyers for the Farkhunda which shocked the world in which a violent mob falsely accused a young woman of burning a Koran and beat her to death. Ms. Raheel was appointed by Mr. Ghani to lead the team representing Farkhunda’s family in the appeal to the Supreme Court. She noted there was discrimination against women and “some government officials didn’t want 49 men punished for the death of one woman.”
The Founder and President of Kandahar Treasure, the first women’s private enterprise in Kandahar, Rangina Hamidi is a women’s rights activist who has pioneered women’s meetings, social activities and networks. She believes social change must come about through economic independence of women. In 2003, she returned to Afghanistan from the United States to begin her work in Kandahar Treasure and serve as the Manager of Women’s Income Generation Project with Afghans for Civil Society, a grassroots organization dedicated to the social development of southern Afghanistan.
Most recently Hossai was the Chief of Staff of the First Lady of Afghanistan Rula Ghani. Hossai has a program development background with extensive experience of working with United Nations both inside and outside Afghanistan. In her recent capacity of working for EQUALITY for Peace and Democracy (EPD), Wardak has been involved in conducting independent analysis and review of 2012 and 2013 Afghanistan National budget, establishing Civil Society Coordination Committee with High Peace Council, service delivery assessment of health and education sector and establishment of community-based monitoring mechanism on using national budget as main monitoring tool in Kabul and Jalalabad. Hossai helped coordinate the WRN Community Conversations to better understand the inter-linkages between corruption, extremisms, militarization of aid and development, and women’s insecurity. She also worked with United Nations Children Fund in Baku Azerbaijan, where she served as a Social Policy Planning and M&E Specialist. Wardak has several unique program achievements; these include design and implementation of programs under the title of Healthy Family Relations from Islamic perspectives, Gender and Ethics in Policing, Inclusion of psychosocial and trauma counseling in Basic Package of Health services and Health Through literacy. The Minister of Women Affairs of Afghanistan awarded her for her unique efforts on Women Rights and Empowerment. Wardak has a diploma in Population Issues from University of Costa Rica, and is a Peace Building and Peace Keeping Associate with Hiroshima Peace Center, Japan. She obtained her Bachelors in Business Administration from Preston University.
Huma Safi is former Deputy Director for Equality for Peace and Democracy and is the former Program Manager for Women for Afghan Women (WAW) based in Kabul, Afghanistan. She has been working on women’s rights issues since graduating from Madrasa with a degree in Islamic Studies. She also has a BA in Business Management. Her previous work was in primary education working with emergency interagency facilitators.
Judge Homa Alizoy
Judge Alizoy is the Head Judge at the Juvenile Court of Afghanistan and Women’s Rights Activist. She is a graduate of Kabul University's faculty of law, with 17 years experience. She is part of the Association of Women Judges of Afghanistan (AWJA) whose first initiative was a Training Programme on legal capacity building of judges and lawyers, training 100 female judges and lawyers in different laws of the country, in order to prepare women to play a more active role in the country's judiciary.
Nooria Sultani was Program and Advocacy Manager for Equality for Peace and Democracy, WRN’s fiscal partner in Afghanistan. She worked for a legal firm and several other organizations, including: Citizen's Organization; Counterpart International; and Afghan Women Skills Development Center. She has lived and worked in each of WRNs focus countries- Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
Palwasha Hassan, born in Kabul, has more than eighteen years of experience in mainstreaming gender in development and governance. She is the founding member of several civil society groups, including the Afghan Women’s Education Center, Afghan Women’s Network, and Roazana. Ms. Hassan is a women’s right activist and social worker with expertise in human rights and violence against women. She has initiated critical community works, such as safe homes and legal aid to refugees and exiled women. In her most recent position as National Director at ChildFund International, Ms. Hassan was responsible for overseeing the scope of projects dealing with security and protection for children and families in Afghanistan. Prior to this, she worked as Project Coordinator and Consultant for the Canada-based International Center for Human Rights and Democratic Development. Ms. Hassan was a member of the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan’s Gender Network. In this role, she worked on a breakthrough human rights research and action project, Human Rights and Peace Research Action Consortium, housed under CARE International in Afghanistan. In December 2003, Ms. Hassan was one of 100 women delegates (and one of 50 delegates directly appointed by President Hamid Karzai) to the Constitutional Loya Jirga. This body drafted and voted in Afghanistan’s new constitution in January 2004. She was recognized for her accomplishments as one of the “1,000 Peace Women” nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. Ms. Hassan holds a master’s degree in post-war recovery studies from York University.
Sajia Behgam has vast over a decade experience working with civil society and government institutions, lobbying for women’s rights and as a Researcher and Professor at the Research and Policy Centre at the University of Kabul. She is currently a Program Director at the Afghan Women Skill Development Center, she served as a Gender Specialist and Policy Advisor to GTZ and as a Women’s Rights & Political Lobby Coordinator at Medica Mondiale.
Ms. Abdulrahimzay is a Human Rights Program Officer at the Open Society Afghanistan (OSA) and expert on human rights in particular Women and Children Rights. Previously, she was the Executive-Director of Women and Children Legal Research Foundation. In her current position with OSA, she oversees grants supporting women’s access to justice; elimination of sexual harassment against women and women’s political participation. She participates in numerous Afghan civil society coalitions on the role of women in peace and reconciliation; approving and implementing the Elimination of Violence against Women law; the Afghan Civil Society Working Group for the Bonn and Tokyo conference and was one of facilitators for the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (TMAF) Senior Official Meeting in Kabul and a female representative on the Steering Committee representing Civil Society. As well, Wazhma leads and facilitates for the Conflict-Related Detention Working group (DWG), Transitional Justice Coordination Group (TJCG) and serves as a member of Women Political Participation Committee (WPPC).
Adila Ahmadi is a young woman who brings more than 10 years of experience in different governmental and non-governmental sectors. Born in 1990, she holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Kardan University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. Her extensive work experience with local and international organizations has enabled her to garner a broad understanding of the ongoing political and social developments in Afghanistan. She has also earned reliable indigenous knowledge about the political dynamics, traditions and social circumstances of Afghanistan. Adila, youth & women rights’ activist, has rightly advocated for the inclusion of youth and women in previous presidential and parliamentary elections in Afghanistan, and encouraged women to vote as she believes in equal rights and opportunities as the core of the human rights vision. Adila Ahmadi and a group of Youth recently organized National Youth Consensus for peace with coordination of more than 200+ NGOs across 34 provinces for the purpose of coordination and consensus among the youth in the peace process. She has been a key organizer of many events on elimination of violence against women and gender equality through various organizations including the Chadari Foundation. She represented Afghanistan in the 2017 South Asian Young Women Leaders Dialogue in Sri Lanka and India, organized by the Canadian diplomatic missions. She has received the Young Ambassador for Peace award by Universal Peace Federation/Youth Federation for World Peace.
is an academic, writer and a development professional. She did her Doctoral research at the Sussex University, England. She is a member Women Action Forum since 1983 and an Assistant Prof. at Kinnaired College, Lahore from 1973 – 1995. She is currently Executive Coordinator at Simorgh Women’s Resource and Publication Centre. Neelum has contributed to the academic discussions on feminism, empowerment and development. Her notable contributions include: Women’s Dars and the Mediation of Desire - the Pakistan Case' 2014”; Women and the Mediation of Desire – A Lahore Case Study; Women, Media and Desire; Tradition, Modernity, Desire, and Women as Objects and Women as Subjects of Fundamentalist Discourse. She is among the pioneers of women’s rights movement.
has worked as a journalist in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province for the last 20 years. She is the Bureau Chief in Aaj News Peshawar. Farzana is the first woman Bureau Chief in KP and second in Pakistan. Her work focuses on human rights issue and terrorism, specifically capturing women’s stories. She has been associated with print media for more than 8 years. During this period she wrote a number or articles on women and human rights issue. During the war on terror, Farzana did her live show "Hot Frontier” from Peshawar. That was first live show on mainstream media from Peshawar done by a woman journalist.
is Award-Winning Public Diplomat by experience, Human Rights and Peace activist by choice, researcher, and writer by profession having more than 15 years of work experience in establishing and leading institutions focusing on developing synergies for peace, development, and dialogue in the region. Farhat is Board Member from Pakistan to Women Regional Network. Farhat is Founder President, Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies. Farhat has received regional N-Peace Award in 2018 and is a Global Change Leader Fellow 2018.
Farhat Parveen has been working since 1990 as a trainer, researcher and documentary film maker. She is currently working as the Executive Director of the National Organization of Working Communities, Karachi, Pakistan. Farhat has an MA degree in Women and Development from The Institute of Social Studies in the Netherlands. Her areas of interest include: conflict and Security in Pakistan, women’s work in the informal sector, minorities in Pakistan, globalization, labour and women, and human resource management and development. She has produced and developed many documentaries focused on these issues. She has vast experience in researching issues related to women’s rights and violence including an important project on the “Causes of Violence in Karachi” for Oxfam Novib in 2010. Farhat is a member of South Asia Labour Forum, Pakistan Peace Coalition, Alliance against Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace, Pakistan India Forum for Peace and Democracy, CAW’s Network and the SAAPE Forum. She was also a member of the Consultation Committee of the Women’s World March 2000.
is a women rights activist and development professional working in the not-for- profit development sector for more than a decade. Her area of expertize are Programme Development, Proposals/ report writing, Training, Mentoring, Project Management, Research and Learning mainly on Gender related issues. Currently she is working as Director Fundraising at University of Peshawar leading the Resource Mobilization Department of the University.
is a women rights activist and a social worker since 2006 working in Balocistan, Pakistan. While working, she realized women are major victims of corruption/discrimination cases in Balochistan Province of Pakistan. Hence, Huma founded Rights Research & Development Foundation (RRDF). Currently, she is focused on working on legal awareness and free legal aid services and has initiated a women’s drug rehabilitation center with the name of Komak Program. Huma is also working as an independent researcher conducting research on different tribal and social issues women are facing in Balochistan province.
Ms. Mangla Sharma comes from Sindh province and completed her Master’s degree in International Relations at the University of Karachi. Ms. Mangla Sharma founded Pak Hindu Welfare Association focused on labor and social rights for minorities. She has been nominated as a member of Provincial Commission on the status of Women and works closely with Inclusive Security, a US nonprofit founded by Ambassador Swanee Hunt. Ms. Sharma is also the recipient of the “Fatima Jinnah Award” from the Ministry of Women’s Development.
Ms. Nadia Ibrahim is the first female engineer of her village, Gilgit, and the first ever student from her village qualified for NUST undergraduate studies. Ms. Ibrahim is currently working with Philips Morris International as planning analyst. Besides being founder of Youth Counseling and Development Network, she has been involved with many other voluntary groups such as Sustainable Tourism Foundation Pakistan, Nust Volunteer Club, young reformers and currently leading Adventure Foundation Pakistan.
Romana Bashir, Executive Director is the founding member of Peace and Development Foundation (PDF). She has been working on Peace Building and Human Rights since 1995 and a well-known, respected senior resource person in the areas of Interfaith Harmony, Religious Freedom, and Women’s & Minorities’ Rights in Pakistan. In appreciation and recognition of her longstanding commitment and contribution she has appointed as a consultant of ‘Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue’ by the Pope (Holy Father) from Rome. She is one of the struggling activists to promoting positive concepts; “Social & Interfaith harmony” and “Composite Heritage as a social connector” in Pakistan amongst grassroots communities, opinion makers, and legislatures across the Country. She sensitized various groups on peace and harmony irrespective of their color, cast, sect and religious beliefs. She has developed training manuals on peace building skills; (“Aman Ki Saqafat” - Culture of Peace and “Aman Ki Rah Per”- On the Path of Peace). She is also co-author of number of books. She is member of the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women.
is an activist in the Pakistani women’s movement since the early 1990s. A lawyer by profession, she also worked with a number of NGOs and International/Regional Networks on issues of violence against women and children including women’s peace and security. Her work for peace started with issues of Afghan Refugees and peace movements for India and Pakistan. Rukhshanda is currently working as an independent researcher and is doing research on different tribal and social issues women are facing in Balochistan province.
Sadia is a Project Officer at Insan Foundation Trust, WRN’s fiscal sponsor in Pakistan. She earned a Master’s degree in International Relations from Quaid e Azam University in Islamabad. She is an active member of One Billion Rising, South Asian Community and a member of the National Youth Parliament in Pakistan. She is the first female in her family to complete her university education.
Saima Jasam is a renowned author and worked with Heinrich Böll Foundation for over 20 years most recently in, Lahore, Pakistan, as Head of the Programme section. She was also the National Coordinator of the Rights of Expression, Assembly, Association and Thought (REAT) Network focusing on minority rights. She received her Master’s degree in development studies from the Institute of Social Studies at Hague, Netherlands. She is a member of various human rights and women rights organizations and is also author of the book Honour, Shame and Resistance and Pakistan From Radicalism to Terrorism: a Historical Journey.
Zahida has over 12 years experience in the development sector. After working as master trainer, resource person, gender specialist and consultant for various national and international non-government organizations (I/NGOs), she established Research and Development Society (RDS) in 2010 and is working mainly on economic empowerment of Baloch women.
Ms. Zohra Nawaz is young activist from North Waziristan Khaybar Pakhtun khawah and has her M.phill degree from University of Agriculture, Peshwar. Ms. Zohra Nawaz is founder and president of the Society For the Rights of Female – ARF and vice president at Youth Development Society - YDS. She has also organized debate and talent award shows as well as being involved with different seminars on social problems. Ms. Nawaz has also worked with several other organizations such as British Council, joint secretary of Horticulture Development and National Democratic Institute.
Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal
Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal is the Executive Editor of Kashmir Times, a leading newspaper of Jammu and Kashmir. As an accomplished journalist she has published extensively on issues of gender and is known for her fearlessness and integrity in reporting the truth in a troubled state. She is a peace activist heavily involved in campaigns for justice and human rights violations against victims in Kashmir. She has a specialization in India-Pakistan relations and is an active member of the Pak-India Forum for Peace and Democracy, SAHR and has participated in several cross border initiatives particularly focused on gendered concerns.
Nusrat is a Program Assistant at India Institute, a not-for-profit public policy think tank. She is an engineering graduate from the University of Kashmir focused on India’s national rural drinking water system. She is actively involved in environmental campaigns in Kashmir. She is from an area near to the highly volatile Line of Control border that stretches between India and Pakistan.
Academic and activist engaged, Professor Kalita focuses on gender, insurgency and the politics of peace in India’s conflict affected northeast. Her area of specialization is women in insurgent movements and she is developing a monograph on the women of United Liberation Front of Assam. She was a fellow at Nehru Memorial Museum and Library and is an Associate Professor at Cotton College in Guwahati, India.
Richa Singh served as the Executive Director of Centre for Democracy and Social Action in New Delhi, India. She has also worked with Aman Trust, Hienrich Boell Foundation, Amnesty International, Global Call to Action Against Poverty and the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs. Richa was a Shastri Fellow to the Department of Political Science at McGill University, a fellow in Gender Studies at the University of Hanover, Germany and she received a PhD in Gender Dynamics of Political Movements.
Rita Manchanda is the Research Director of SAFHR (South Asia Forum for Human Rights). Currently she is directing a multi-country field-based study on auditing Partitions as a Method of Conflict Resolution. She is a writer, researcher and a journalist and has written extensively on security and human rights issues. She wrote an edited volume entitled “Women, War and Peace in South Asia: Beyond Victimhood to Agency”, which has been a pioneering study on feminist theorizing and praxis on conflict and peace building. Her research study on “Naga Women in the Peace Process” is a benchmark contribution in field studies of gendered war narratives. Her professional experience in India’s Defense Ministry think tank, the Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis has motivated her to explore alternate ways of looking at a people-centric security approach. She works to bring to the center of analysis, voices of marginalized groups and minorities as reflected in her recent work, “States in Conflict with Their Minorities,” and the “No Nonsense Guide to Minority Rights in South Asia.”
Sahba Hussain is a well-known independent gender researcher, writer and important political activist in the women’s movement. In the past she has been associated with the Centre for Women’s Development studies and the All India Democratic Women’s association. Recently, her work has focused on Jammu & Kashmir in India and in the last six years she has worked closely with people affected by violence, including women and children, focusing on the human dimension of conflict. She has also recently been associated with OXFAM and Aman Trust, New Delhi. She was a former lecturer of Gender Studies Programme in Indraprastha College, Delhi and has published extensively on issues of women in conflict, including violence against women, women’s emancipation, militancy, citizenship, borders and access to justice.
Sarika Sinha has worked more than 16 years for ActionAid International India in Bhopal located in India's central tribal belt. She is a researcher and activist who is heavily involved in documenting and supporting people's struggles, including grassroots organisations and movements against development induced displacement such as dam construction. Ms. Sinha has authored, co-authored and edited numerous books and reports, including: “Status of the Implementation of the Anti- domestic Violence Act” and “Hashiye ki Awaaz.” She is the chairperson of the Anti-Sexual Harassment cell of ActionAid and a member of numerous committees focused on women and children.
Saumya Uma is a lawyer, professor of law,and independent legal researcher on gender, human rights and law. She currently teaches at the School of Law, Governance and Citizenship (SLGC) at Ambedkar University Delhi She has LL.M degrees in International Human Rights and Family Law & Human Rights from the University of Nottingham and the University of Mumbai respectively. She was formerly the Executive Director or Women’s Research and Action Group (WRAG) and Assistant Director for the India Centre for Human Rights and Law. She has a plethora of publications addressing issues of women’s rights and domestic violence in the context of law and legal policies. She is particularly interested in the relevance of law, its loopholes and where the state has abdicated its responsibilities. She has a breadth of experience in the context of Kandhamal communal violence in India and has particular specialization on discrimination against women and girls, repressive laws, rights of victims, witness protection and impunity for mass crimes.
Swarna Rajagopalan works as an independent scholar and writer on traditional and non‐traditional security topics in Chennai, India. She is the founding trustee of The Prajnya Trust, a new centre for research and public education on security issues. Swarna received her Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1998), an M.A. in International Relations from Syracuse University (1985) and a B.A. in Political Science from Elphinstone College, University of Bombay (1984). Her Ph.D. dissertation was published as State and Nation in South Asia (Lynne Rienner 2001/ Viva 2006).
Sudha Varghese, also known as Sister Sudha, is a social worker and Catholic nun in India. She has devoted herself to work on behalf of the Musahar, the Dalit of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, or the "untouchables" caste and is the chief executive officer of Nari Gunjan ("woman's voice"), a NGO that provides education, literacy, vocational training, healthcare, advocacy and life skills for “untouchables”. Nari Gunjan supports 1500 girls in 50 facilities. She is also the recipient of the Padma Shri, the fourth highest award granted to civilians in India.
Has a Masters in Social Work, Nagpur University, Maharashtra, India. She is the Recipient of the Rajya Sabha Fellowship on Parliamentary Studies. Suvarna has been associated with an NGO called Prakriti, based in Nagpur for 23 years and is now working as Executive Director. She has worked on issues of women's leadership in grassroots governance and decision making, violence against women, economic empowerment and strengthening self-help groups, human resource development as well as rehabilitation and livelihood promotion of suicide affected farmers’ families. She has published numerous articles and research papers, prepared training manuals, films and publications for women elected in local governing bodies.
Ms. Zainab Akhtar is from a remote area in Ladakh, Kashmir and is a highly knowledgeable and results-oriented researcher and professional. She completed her Doctorate in International Relations and Masters in Philosophy in International Relation from Jawaharlal Nehru University. Ms. Akhtar has research experience in the field of international relations with a focus on India-Pakistan relations. She worked as a research officer for a Delhi based think tank and is involved organizing conferences, seminars and writing reports. She also received Ladakh Women’s Writers award in 2008 by Charkha, an NGO.
WRN GLOBAL ADVISORS
Abdul Wahed (Zia) Moballegh
A human rights activist since 1992, Abdul Wahed Zia Moballegh has been at the forefront of the movement urging for equality-based legal reforms. He is now Senior Advocacy and Research Officer at Open Society Afghanistan. After the Taliban regime was ousted, he worked as a women’s rights activist at Afghan and international non-governmental organizations, including UN Women. Prior to that, he was at the helm of International Center for Human Rights and Democratic Development as Country Director. He is resolute in his conviction that women’s participation and women’s rights will pave the way for sustainable security and peace, and has been calling for equality in laws such as the juvenile code, family law, elimination of violence against women law, and labor law. He has also been campaigning unwaveringly for the reform of Shia Personal Status Law and Family Law. He has been a board member of Afghan Civil Society Forum, and a member of Musawah (a global movement for equality and justice in the Muslim community), and Peace Jirga. He is currently the Country Director for Heinrich Böll Foundation.
Bushra Gohar has been a Member of the Pakistan Parliament from 2008-2013, and is a Central Member of the Awami National Party's (ANP) interim organising committee & intra party elections commission. The ANP has a long history of supporting women’s rights and she was twice elected as Central Vice President of the party. She was also elected chair of the National Assembly's Standing Committee on Women's Development and chaired the committee to appoint a chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW). As a long-time development and human rights activist she served as the Chair of the South Asia Partnership International and as a Global vice Chair of the Inter-nation Council on Social Welfare. She is a founding member of the newly formed National Organisation of Women in Parliamentary Politics. Ms. Gohar has served on the Advisory Council of the Women, Peace and Security Research Institute (RIWPS). She is a Member of the Parliamentarians Network for Conflict Prevention and at the forefront advocating for the inclusion of women’s voices in the peace processes taking place in Pakistan. She pioneered one of the first all-women Jirgas (Elders Council) on peace and security to address women-specific issues and bring them to the mainstream decision making forums.
Chelsea served for a number of years as the Chief Operating Officer overseeing all programming of the Women’s Regional Network. She previously served as a Project Coordinator for the South Asia Forum for Human Rights in Delhi, India. She has lived and spent extensive time in South Asia including Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka organizing large scale conferences, advocacy initiatives and field research on women, peace and security, focusing on militarization, protection of women human rights defenders, access to justice and women’s role in peace-building. Previously, in Brussels, Belgium she served as a consultant for Mary Robinson’s organization Realizing Rights and the UN Civil Society Advisory Group on Women, Peace and Security conducting high level European advocacy. She has worked in the Balkans on health care issues and in Seoul, South Korea as a human rights advocate for North Korean women defectors. Chelsea works with a number of grassroots organizations in South Asia and serves as a Special Ambassador for the Maitreya Foundation for Tibetan children (India) and Janakpur Handicrafts (Nepal) as well as a member of Canassist at the Canadian High Commission, India. Chelsea has a Master’s Degree in International Relations from the University of Kent in Brussels and undergraduate degree in Psychology from Dalhousie University in Canada. She is currently studying with the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma.
Corinne Kumar is Secretary General of El Taller International, an international NGO committed to international women’s human rights, sustainable development, and both North-South and South-South exchange and dialogue across diverse cultures and civilizations. She was formerly Director of the Centre for Development Studies (CIEDS Collective) in India. She is a founding member of the Asian Women’s Human Rights Council (AWHRC) and of Vimochana, an NGO in Bangalore, India working on issues such as domestic violence, dowry-related deaths, and workplace sexual harassment. A philosopher, poet, human rights theoretician and activist, she is editor of two human rights journals, Sangarsh and The Quilt, and has written and spoken extensively on refugees, violence against women, militarization, and the dominant human rights discourse, critiquing it from a gender and Global South perspective.
Cynda Collins Arsenault
Cynda Collins Arsenault has 40 years of experience in non-profit work including peace and justice, prison, mental health, disability rights and environmental issues. She is co-founder, Chairman of the Board, and President of Secure World Foundation, as well as co-founder of the Arsenault Family Foundation. As a philanthropist concentrating on the empowerment and voice of women, she is part of the Women’s Donor Network and Women Moving Millions. Currently, she is a member of the Women’s Forum and Board Officer of the Association for Community Living. Ms. Collins Arsenault received her BA in Sociology and Psychology at University of California Berkeley and earned her Masters Degree in Education from Colorado State University.
Ms. Khan has dedicated herself for six years to elevating the discourse on Islam, improving the lives of Muslims and non-Muslims globally through ASMA and its sister organization, the Cordoba Initiative. She has received coverage on ABC, PBS, BBC World, CNN, Fox News, National Geographic, Al Jazeera, and the Hallmark Channel, and is active lecturing and debating in the US and internationally. She launched two cutting edge intra-faith programs to start movements of change among the two disempowered majorities of the Muslim world: youth and women. The MLT: Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow and WISE: Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality programs were launched at an international scale. She is the recipient of several awards, including the Interfaith Center’s Award for Promoting Peace and Interfaith Understanding and Women’s E-News 21st leaders for 21st. Currently, Ms. Khan is Executive Director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement.
Dr. Syeda Saiyidain Hameed
Dr. Syeda Saiyidain Hameed was born in Kashmir and currently resides in New Delhi, India. She holds a BA from Delhi University, an MA from the University of Hawaii, a PhD from the University of Alberta, and, since 1986, has authored more than 20 books and articles pertaining to women’s, religious, and minority rights in South Asia. She formerly served on the Planning Commission of the Indian Government with responsibilities including health, women and children, and minority rights; and currently serves as Chancellor of The Maulana Azad National Urdu University in Hyderabad – a university committed to providing higher, technical and vocational education to women in the Urdu language. In 2012, Dr. Hameed joined The Hunger Project’s Global Board of Directors. Dr. Hameed’s career demonstrates a long-standing commitment to sustainable development and the education of women. Making it a priority to be at the forefront of development, Dr. Hameed has been a founding member of a great number of rights and education groups including the Muslim Women’s Forum where she advocates for legal literacy of Muslim women who wish to work with government; the Women’s Initiative for Peace in South Asia – an organization that empowers women as catalysts for a climate of peace through dialogue; South Asians for Human Rights; and the Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation.
Jane Barry is a specialist in humanitarian policy and program development in conflicts with an emphasis on human rights and security. She has spent over nine years designing and managing emergency programs, assessments, and evaluations in the former Soviet Union, the Balkans, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and northern Iraq. Her publications include: What’s the Point of Revolution if We Can’t Dance? With JelenaDjordjevic, Rising up in Response: Women’s Rights Activism in Conflicts, and Position Paper on Humanitarian-Military Relations in the Provision of Humanitarian Assistance for the Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response. Ms. Barry holds a Certificate from the London School of Economics in International Human Rights Law and Practice and a B.A. in Soviet Studies from Middlebury College in the United States.
Nargis Nehan is currently the Head of the Policy Unit, Office of the President. She was formerly the Executive Director and Founder of EQUALITY for Peace and Democracy (EPD), a non-governmental and civil society organization advocating equal rights and access for all. Previously, she worked with the Afghan Government in senior level positions for more than 7 years since the establishment of the interim Administration of Afghanistan. Nargis has also worked with several non-governmental organizations promoting democracy at the grass roots level. Ms. Nehan was recently appointed as the first female member of the Supreme Council of the Central Bank where she represents civil society. She is also Board member of the Electoral Support Organization of Afghanistan (ESOA). Through EPD, she has been working with community-based civil society groups to make communities aware of their civil rights and of the role and responsibilities of citizens, especially of opinion leaders. Ms. Nehan holds a business degree in Business Management and has received international trainings in peace building, conflict resolution, budgeting, gender budgeting, strategic planning and good governance.
Sima Samar, MD.
Dr. Simar obtained her degree in medicine in 1982 from Kabul University, the first Hazara woman to do so. She practiced medicine at a government hospital in Kabul, but after a few months was forced to flee for her safety to her native Jaghoori, where she provided medical treatment to patients throughout the remote areas of central Afghanistan.In 1984, the communist regime arrested her husband, and Samar and her young son fled to the safety of nearby Pakistan. She then worked as a Doctor at the refugee branch of the Mission Hospital. Distressed by the total lack of health care facilities for Afghan refugee women, she established in 1989 the Shuhada Organization and Shuhada Clinic in Quetta, Pakistan. The Shuhada Organization was dedicated to the provision of health care to Afghan women and girls, training of medical staff and to education. In the following years further branches of the clinic/hospital were opened throughout Afghanistan. After living in refuge for over a decade, Samar returned to Afghanistan in 2002 to assume a cabinet post in the Afghan Transitional Administration led by Hamid Karzai. In the interim government, she served as Deputy President and then as Minister for Women’s Affairs. She was forced into resignation from her post after she was threatened with death and harassed for questioning conservative Islamic laws, especially Sharia law, during an interview in Canada with a Persian-language newspaper. During the 2003 Loya Jirga, several religious conservatives took out an ad in a local newspaper calling Samar the Salman Rushdie of Afghanistan. She serves as head of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC).
WRN HONORARY MEMBERS
Stephen McCormick is Senior Associate of Skillful Means. He has spent the last 20 years focused on helping organizations, communities and multi-stakeholder partnerships bring clarity to goals, strategies, processes, organizational structures and professional relations in order to accomplish critical tasks. From 1996 to 1998 Stephen was Director of Organizational Development at the Open Society Institute, resident in Budapest; he oversaw the establishment of the Department of Training and Development and the institutionalization of training programs for the 1000+ employees and board members within the network of foundations and institutes established by George Soros, and served as OSI's main organizational troubleshooter. Prior to this, he was the Central European representative of the National Civic League and a Managing Director of Chautauqua International, Inc., an international consulting partnership working in the field of democratic governance. From 1989-1991 he was resident in Kenya, as manager of a USAID-funded school renovation effort. Stephen has worked as an consultant, facilitator and trainer since 1979 and as the director and supervisor of training programs since 1984. Stephen holds a Masters degree from Yale University and a Diploma in Organizational Behaviour from London University.
John McCann has more than 25 years experience in helping leaders work more effectively. His clients have ranged from the American Association of Retired Persons to the New York Youth Orchestra. In the area of innovation and strategy, McCann has worked with more than 300 of the nation’s leading cultural institutions. McCann has assisted in the formation of unique partnerships and strategic alliances including Latino New South, a coalition of the Levine Museum of the New South, Atlanta History Center, and Birmingham Civil Rights Institute; and the Global Artist Network involving the Museum of International Folk Art, International Folk Art Alliance and leading folk artists from Rwanda, Afghanistan, Ghana, and seven other nations. At the graduate level, he has taught management and leadership at Drexel University and Virginia Tech, where for ten years he served as the Director of the Institute for Cultural Policy and Practice. He has delivered guest lectures at Duke University, the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. His pro bono work includes engagements with the Clinton Global Initiative, New Orleans Recovery and Rebuilding Coalition, and the Women’s Regional Network (Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan). McCann is co-founder and currently a board member of EmcArts, a nonprofit social enterprise for learning and innovation in the arts.