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Peace on the Line in Afghanistan: The Future of Rights & Representation

On Monday, September 16, 2019, the McCain Institute for International Leadership was honored to welcome Afghan Ambassador to the U.S. Roya Rahmani to speak about the ongoing fight for peace in Afghanistan.

The discussion focused on future Afghanistan, how peace can be made more durable, and how the international community ought to best support Afghan women as they defend their rights and fight to be heard. With an expected peace deal between the U.S. Administration and the Taliban on September 1, many questions remain.

“We must continue to build stability and continue to find peace through the democratic elections scheduled later this year,” H.E. Rahmani stated during her comments. “During the past four years, the number of women in decision-making positions in our government has been unprecedented in our history. When women take part in peace processes, they are 35% more likely to be successful over a 15-year period”

Throughout the discussion, her comments placed great emphasis on the importance of including women in the peace negotiations and implementation of the peace process thereafter. Although she agreed on the importance of getting a ceasefire and peace deal done, she stated, “The terms of the agreement will define how far we can go with I,” indicating the Afghan government’s commitment to building a long-term, sustainable future instead of a short-lived ceasefire.

Finally, H.E. Rahmani highlighted the changing nature of the U.S.-Afghan relationship. “Please convey this to the Americans: we have changed. We have a new political class. We have really worked hard to move on and today we will not ask you for the same things: aid, weapons, money. We are asking you to expand the opportunities to trade with you, to partner with you, to add value to the relationship. We are not putting our hand for aid – we are putting it out for partnership.”


H.E. Roya Rahmani is the first woman ambassador of Afghanistan to the United States of America. She assumed this position on December 14, 2018. Prior to this, she served as Afghanistan’s first woman ambassador to Indonesia and the country’s first accredited ambassador to the Association of southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). During her tenure in Indonesia, she was also accredited as Afghanistan’s non-resident ambassador to Singapore. While in Indonesia, the Afghan and Indonesian relationship soared to its highest since its inception in 1954, resulting in close cooperation in economics, cultural exchanges, and promotion of peace and tolerance from the Islamic perspective.

Sahana Dharmapuri is the director of the Our Secure Future program at the One Earth Future Foundation. From 2006-2016, Dharmapuri was an independent gender advisor on gender, peace and security issues to USAID, NATO, The Swedish Armed Forces, the United States Institute for Peace, International Peace Institute and other international development organizations. Dharmapuri was a writer-residence at the Carey Institute for Global Good (2016) where she completed her first book, “Women, Peace & Security: 10 Things You Should Know.” She was appointed a fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government (2011-2013) and was an Investing in Women in Development Fellow at the United States Agency for International Development (2003-2005).

Ambassador Kurt Volker is a leading expert in U.S. foreign and national security policy with some 30 years of experience in a variety of government, academic and private sector capacities. Ambassador Volker serves as executive director of the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University based in Washington, DC.

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DISCLAIMER: McCain Institute is a nonpartisan organization that is part of Arizona State University. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent an opinion of the McCain Institute.

Publish Date
September 19, 2019