Women, Reconstruction, and the Challenges of Civil Society in Afghanistan

In honor of Women's History Month, IPDGC hosted a roundtable discussion featuring experts and speakers from Afghanistan, Canada, and the U.S. to discuss the challenges, successes, and failures of reconstruction in Afghanistan as it relates to women and girls. 

By now, the war in Afghanistan has become a staple of daily news in the U.S. Yet, there has been relatively little discussion about the successes and failures of non-military strategies for stabilizing and rebuilding Afghanistan. Even less discussion has revolved around the question of how women have contributed to these pursuits. The discussion pivoted on five themes: building civil society, political participation, security, advocacy, and business and enterprise. Other issues for discussion included legal and civil structures affecting the role of women in society; the impact of coalition forces on the development and reconstruction of the country; success of women-owned private enterprises, such as Kandahar Treasure; and NGO funding.


  • Rangina Hamidi, founder of Kandahar Treasure, the first women's private enterprise in Kandahar, and a 2007 "CNN Hero"
  • Palwasha Hassan, women's rights activist, founder of the Afghan Women's Network, and recent United States Institute of Peace Fellow
  • Patricia Liedl, award-winning journalist and independent media consultant, recently returned from Afghanistan
  • Mariam Atash Nawabi, attorney and social entrepreneur, television personality, and founding member of the Afghanistan Advocacy Group-a national network of Americans engaging with policymakers on development and security in Afghanistan
  • Barmak Pahzwak, Afghanistan Program officer at the United States Institute of Peace and former senior international adviser to the Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, government of Afghanistan, for the United Nations Development Program.