The Women’s Forum on Afghanistan is a platform led by Afghan women leaders with support from global women leaders formed to ensure the inclusion of Afghan women in the dialogue and decision-making of the international community on the future of Afghanistan. The Women’s Forum believes that gender equality and women’s empowerment are critical to international peace and security and that women’s rights in Afghanistan – access to education, employment, political participation, resources and freedom of movement – will be a litmus test for the Taliban and the global community.


On August 15, 2021 Taliban forces secured control of Afghanistan, capturing the capital city Kabul. The Taliban’s takeover has thrown the country into a critical state of emergency. The consequences have been devastating, especially for Afghan women and girls. The equality Afghan women have been fighting for was stripped away by the Taliban, who immediately ended girls’ education past primary school and banned women’s employment. Many Afghan women have been forced to flee the country and others remain in hiding, afraid for their lives. With great courage across the country Afghan women have stood up and demonstrated for their rights, for which they have been beaten and detained.    

On September 20th, 2021, following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, the Sisterhood is Global Institute in collaboration with the Roosevelt House Human Rights Program of Hunter College and Women for Afghan Women, organized an online high-level forum between global women leaders and Afghan women leaders to discuss the current situation of women in Afghanistan and the future of the country. The forum was chaired by former Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström and included among the attendees: former UN High Commissioners for Human Rights Navi Pillay and Mary Robinson, Gloria Steinem, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Leymah Gbowee, former South Korean Foreign Minister Kyung-wha Kang, Jennifer Lawrence and many other women leaders. Afghan women leaders included Shaharzad Akbar, Former Chair of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, Fawzia Koofi, Former Deputy Speaker of the Afghan Parliament, and Asila Wardak, Former Director General of UN Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For security reasons, the names of some Afghan attendees were withheld, although many of these brave women signed the public statement that came out of the meeting demanding that governments and humanitarian organizations prioritize women’s rights in Afghanistan. This forum sparked the creation of the Women’s Forum on Afghanistan.

Steering Committee

Margot Wallström

Margot Wallström (Chair)

Former Foreign Minister of Sweden

Shaharzad Akbar

Shaharzad Akbar (On Leave)

Executive Director of Rawadari & Former Chair of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission

Fawzia Koofi

Former Deputy Speaker of the Afghan Parliament


Habiba Sarabi

Former Afghan Minister for Women’s Affairs & Former Governor of Bamyan Province

Fatima Gailani

Former President of the Afghan Red Crescent


Asila Wardak

Commissioner of the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission of the OIC & Former Director General of UN Affairs in the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Navi Pillay

Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Former President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

Melanne Verveer

Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, Former US Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues

Kyung-Wha Kang

Former Foreign Minister, South Korea, Former UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Former UN Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator

Forum Participants ​

Mary Akrami (Afghanistan) – Executive Director of Afghan Women’s Network

Nilofar Ayoubi (Afghanistan) –  Activist, journalist, CEO of Asia Times News Paper

Shukria Barakzai (Afghanistan) – Women’s Rights Activist and Journalist, Former Member of Afghan Parliament and Former Ambassador

Suraya Dalil (Afghanistan) – Former Afghan Minister of Health

Isabel de Saint Malo (Panama) – Former Vice President and Foreign Minister of Panama 

Anna Diamantopoulou (Greece) – Chair of the European Commission High Level Group on the Future of Social Protection and the Welfare State in the EU

María Fernanda Espinosa (Ecuador) – Former President of the General Assembly

Wazhma Frogh (Afghanistan) – Co-founder and  the Director of the Research Institute for Women, Peace and Security

Cristina Gallach (Spain) – Former Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the Spanish Government

Leymah Gbowee (Liberia) – Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Founder and President of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa

Arancha González Laya (Spain) – Former Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Spanish Government

Rima Khalaf (Jordan) – Former Deputy Prime Minister of Jordan

Zahra’ Langhi (Libya) – Co-founder and CEO of Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace (LWPP)

Susana Malcorra (Argentina) – Former Foreign Minister of Argentina

Marjam Matin (Afghanistan) – Former Deputy Minister of Education

Robin Morgan (United States) – President of Sisterhood is Global Institute

Nargis Nehan (Afghanistan) – Former Afghan Minister of Mines and Petroleum

Jessica Neuwirth (United States)– Director of the Human Rights Program at Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute, Founder of Donor Direct Action

Hibaaq Osman (Somalia) –  Founder and Director of Karama, and the Chair of ThinkTank for Arab Women

Sherry Rehman (Pakistan) – Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Senate of Pakistan  

Mary Robinson (Ireland) – Former President of Ireland and Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Mariam Safi (Afghanistan) – Executive Director of the Organization for Policy Research and Development Studies (DROPS) 

Zainab Salbi (Iraq) – Founder of Women for Women International, Co-founder Daughters for Earth

Fatiha Serour (Algeria) – Former Deputy Special Representative in Somalia (United Nations)

Gloria Steinem (United States) –  Author, Activist, Board Member of the Sisterhood is Global Institute  

Sisterhood Is Global Institute

The Sisterhood is Global Institute (SIGI) is hosting the Women’s Forum on Afghanistan and providing logistical support for its work. SIGI was formed to further the empowerment of women to save themselves, each other, and the planet through collective dialogue and action. SIGI is pledged to visionary yet pragmatic action in support of women’s rights, freedoms, and power.

Roosevelt House
Human Rights Program

The Human Rights Program of Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College convened the first gathering of the Women’s Forum on Afghanistan, together with the Sisterhood is Global Institute
. The Roosevelt House Human Rights Program of Hunter College provides a forum for advocates, scholars, diplomats, and others to address human rights problems and strengthen the human rights movement.