Video On Demand

A Work in Progress: A Conversation on Women and Girls in Afghanistan

October 30, 2017 • 9:00 – 10:30 am EDT

Please join CSIS for an armchair discussion with the First Lady of Afghanistan Rula Ghani. The conversation will focus on the progress of women's economic and social empowerment in Afghanistan over the past 15 years.

Under the Taliban, no girls were allowed to go to school, but now more than 3.6 million girls are in school. In 2014, girls went to school for an average of eight years. Progress is being made, but there is still room for improvement. According to a USAID survey, 80 percent of Afghan women now have access to mobile technology which gives them a new level of independence.

Today, we are pleased to host the First Lady of Afghanistan Rula Ghani, who has been a champion on these issues. Mrs. Ghani moved to Afghanistan from Lebanon in the 1970s shortly after her marriage to Ashraf Ghani. She first attended the American University of Beirut and later received her master's degree in Journalism from Columbia University in New York City.

Mrs. Ghani plays an active role as first lady, supporting efforts to fully integrate women and girls into Afghan society and into the workforce. At his inauguration on September 29, 2014, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani introduced his wife of 40 years, Rula “BibiGul” Ghani, to the Afghan nation, and predicted that she would soon be involved in attending to the needs of the most vulnerable among the population. That was over three years ago and since then the First Lady has indeed opened the doors of her office and has received delegation after delegation from the farthest corners of the country.

In the field of women in security for instance, she has been a persistent advocate for the development of the existing Afghan police Family Response Units (FRUs) as a tool to help resolve family situations before they turn into dramatic conflicts.

She has also brought together in May 2016 prominent Afghan women from Kabul and the provinces in a Symposium to discuss their role and contribution to the rebuilding of Afghanistan. In May 2017 another Afghan women symposium was held to discuss the role of Afghan women as Messengers of Peace. The emphasis was on the importance of changing the mentality of society from a culture of violence to a culture of peace.

Daniel F. Runde
Senior Vice President; William A. Schreyer Chair; Director, Project on Prosperity and Development

Rula Ghani

First Lady of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan