Lunch Debate, Women in Afghanistan




Women's Perspectives on Progress


and Challenges in Afghanistan


Lunch debate in London


Tuesday, 14 July 2009
12.30 - 15.00
10, St. James's Square, London SW1Y 4LE, London, UK


The international debate on Afghanistan in recent months has been dominated by the proposed so-called "Shiite law", which has caused international outrage, and by the renewed brutal attacks by the Taleban against women's rights activists. Against this background and in light of the complexities of the Afghan society, the event aims to provide a platform to leading Afghan women's rights activists to voice their views on the situation of women in Afghanistan, their role in achieving progress, and the role that Europeans can play in supporting them.
The debate will be in English. Please find detailed information about the speakers and organisers below.
Fatima Gailani, President of the Afghan "Red Crescent Society", Kabul
Elizabeth Winter, ViceChairman of the Board of Trustees, Afghanaid
Dr. Sarah Fane, Chairwoman of Afghan Connection
Caroline Montagu, Associate Fellow at the SOAS - London Middle East Institute
Sandwiches and drinks will be served. Please confirm your participation by email to Alba@EuropeanDemocracy.org or fax: +32 2 213 0049.
For any queries please contact Alba Xhixha: +32 2 213 0043 or at + 32 496 265 901.




Fatima Gailani, President of the Afghan "Red Crescent Society"
Fatima Gailani has been serving as the president of the Afghan Red Crescent Society since 2004. She is the daughter of Pir Sayed Ahmed Gailani,the leader of the National Islamic Front of Afghanistan who fought against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. Ms Gailani obtained a BA and subsequently an MA in Persian Literature and Sufism in 1978 from the National University of Iran. She also earned an MA in Islamic Studies from the Muslim College in London in 1994. She attended the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan in 2001. After her return to Afghanistan she was chosen as a delegate to the Emergency Loya Jirga - Grand Council - of June 2002 and was appointed as a constitution drafting and ratifying commissioner. Ms Gailani is the author of two books (Mosques of London and a biography of Mohammed Mosa Shafi).
Elizabeth Winter, ViceChair of the Board of Trustees, Afghanaid
Winter is a social scientist / researcher with many years of experience of managing NGOs both in the UK and in Pakistan / Afghanistan. As well as being a founder member of Afghanaid, Elizabeth was also a founder member of the British Agencies Afghanistan Group. Elizabeth is currently an active advocate on issues relating to Afghanistan as well as carrying out consultancies for the UN, DFID and other agencies concerned with Afghanistan's development.
Dr. Sarah Fane, Chairwomen of Afghan Connection
Dr. Fane studied medicine at Bristol University and spent her elective year in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan, where she met with the Guildford Surgical Team. She returned with them the following year to Pakistan, and worked from a Mujahideen border camp, treating female patients from the surrounding Afghan refugee camps. Ten years later, she was asked to go to the Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan, to assess a mother and child clinic. The visit and the people she met inspired her to set up a charity, Afghan Connection, dedicated to provide access to healthcare and education particularly for women and children.
Caroline Montagu, Associate Fellow at the SOAS' London Middle East Institute
In addition, Caroline Montagu, is committee member of various Saudi-British organizations, and honorary member of the Middle East Association. Montagu has worked extensively on Saudi Arabian civil society, women and social affairs and the domestic NGOs and in 2008 she was awarded the 2008 Saudi British Society Rawabi prize. She has also done work on Afghanistan and with her daughter living there for three years, Montagu has been involved in discussions on dialogue between Afghan and Saudi women on reform, liberalization and the role of Islam in the two countries.




European Foundation for Democracy
The European Foundation for Democracy (EFD) is a policy and advocacy institute based in Brussels and dedicated to defending democratic values, supporting democratic reforms and countering the ideologies that drive terrorism.  EFD aims to unite organisations and individuals from different religious and ethnic backgrounds to support the values of open societies: universal human rights, freedom of conscience, and pluralism of peaceful ideas. EFD's Afghanistan Programme aims to contribute to reforms and change in Afghanistan and to encourage debate on the role that Europe can play to support Afghanistan.


Afghanaid is a humanitarian-aid non-governmental charity based in the UK originating from Afghanistan Support Committee which was founded in London in 1981. Two years later, Afghanaid was set up as an independent charity to provide assistance to Afghans in hardship and distress. Afghanaid has worked alongside Afghan communities for over two decades. They currently work directly with over 500,000 adults and children focusing on long term sustainable development in rural areas. Afghanaid has approximately 450 staff in Afghanistan and just 3 in the UK, and it mainly focuses on community development and supporting livelihoods, and they primarily work with women.


Afghan Connection
Afghan Connection was established in 2002 and works primarily on education, healthcare and extracurricular activities for children, including sports . Since then, it has funded construction at 30 schools across Afghanistan and run a twinning project linking 20 UK and Afghan schools together. These schools serve 26,000 children. It has funded medical training, hospital and clinic refurbishment, medical equipment and vaccination projects. Recently, it founded a cricket project, funded by the MCC and backed by the Afghan cricket team, to bring cricket to children in Afghanistan.