Afghanistan Program Coordinator
Belquis Ahmadi,an Afghan national, first joined the International Human Rights Law Group's Women's Rights Advocacy Program team in 2000 as a New Voices Fellow sponsored by the Academy for Educational Development. Now the IHRLG Afghanistan Program Coordinator, Ms. Ahmadi helps coordinate program activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan and handles program management and development responsibilities at our Washington Headquarters.
Ms. Ahmadi was selected to participe in Afghanistan's recent loya jirga, convened to determine the new government. Following the events of September 11, 2001, she participated in the major conferences convened in Europe to discuss and plan for the future of Afghanistan, including the Afghan Women's Summit and the Roundtable on Women's Leadership in Afghanistan (both in Brussels), and the Civil Society Conference (in Bonn). Ms. Ahmadi has also participated in various university panel discussions on women's rights and the future of Afghanistan including the University of Wisconsin (Madison) and American University (Washington, DC) and St. Louis University.
Ms. Ahmadi has been working for the rights of women in Afghanistan since 1990 and maintains extensive contact with women leaders, academics, journalists, writers, doctors and grassroots community leaders inside Afghanistan. She specializes in peace building, with an emphasis on education programs for Afghan women and youth. Since 1996, Ms. Ahmadi has designed several programs for Afghan youth to highlight the need for peace and democratic values in Afghan society.
Prior to joining IHRLG, Ms. Ahmadi, worked with the International Committee of the Red Cross (Kabul), CARE-International (Kabul) and the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (Peshawar). She also worked on several projects for internally displaced persons and widows. In 1995, she was selected by Afghan NGOs in Kabul to work as the liaison person between the NGOs and the Government of Afghanistan. In that capacity, Ms. Ahmadi advocated women's rights concerns at government meetings until the Taliban took over and banned women from participation in government meetings. In 1996, Ms. Ahmadi, along with her female law school teacher, founded the Afghan Women's Network in Kabul. In October 1996, she had to leave Afghanistan for Pakistan where she continued to organize Afghan women activists and young Afghans and reestablished the Afghan Women's Network in Peshawar, Pakistan. Through that network, Ms. Ahmadi conducted awareness projects for Afghan women refugees on issues such as domestic violence, conflict resolution, grassroots mobilization, and community outreach. She has also organized trainings on women's rights awareness.
Ms. Ahmadi has written extensively on the rights of Afghan women and has raised the issue of violence against Afghan women at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and before other international policy fora. She is fluent in English and the Afghan languages of Dari and Pashtu, and has working knowledge of French and Urdu.