Rina Amiri – Afghanistan & USA

Linked with Women Likely to Suffer Most in Central Asia’s Turmoil, with Muslim Women As Symbols and Pawns, with the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan RAWA, and with The Women Waging Peace Network.

She says: “I felt destroyed within seeing that, my adopted country (USA) and my homeland (Afghanistan) were at war.”

Read: The Fear Beneath the Burka, by Rina Amiri, The New York Times – March 20, 2002.

She says also: “As a child in this climate of fear, I was confused and felt anger. From a secure, warm and loving family life, I suddenly learned that the world could lack any element of control”.

Rina Amiri - Afghanistan one.jpg

Rina Amiri – Afghanistan & USA

She works for The Women Waging Peace Network.

Listen to her audio/ watch her video on OnlineNewsHour.

Read: Afghanis in the Driver’s Seat, Rina Amiri addresses Afghanistan’s current status.

Rina Amiri has been preparing since she was a child for her present dynamic role as a peace builder and reconstruction strategist in her devastated homeland, Afghanistan. It is a role she has longed for, and to which she has been passionately committed for as long as she can remember. Yet before the events of September 2001, it seemed inconceivable that she could return to her country, devastated by decades of invasion, clan warfare, drought, and famine.

She was only five years old when her family fled Kabul after the King was overthrown and exiled, and she vividly recalls the terror, confusion, and hardship her family and others endured as they scrambled for shelter in other countries. Her family’s path led through Pakistan, then India, and they finally settled near San Francisco. “There were only about one hundred Afghans in the Bay area back then,” she recalls. “Yet we had a strong national identity.”

Rina felt obligated to use her intelligence and experience toward her goal of one day helping to heal her devastated country. After college, she focused on developing conflict resolution skills, and began working for the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. During her time there, Rina was a central participant in the Women Waging Peace program’s annual colloquium, which gathered peace activists from conflict areas around the world. Yet in her own homeland, she could see only despair, as the Soviet withdrawal in l989 gave way to Afghan civil war, followed by the rise of the Taliban extremists.

In the shock of the World Trade Center attacks, she had only one thought: “We are going to be refugees again.”

She was afraid that she and her fellow Afghans would be feared and hated, and forced to leave the only home she had known for a quarter of a century. She felt compelled to speak out, emphasizing that not all Muslims think the same or hate America. Overnight, she became a spokesperson for her country, advocating for women’s rights and refugee assistance. She wrote opinion pieces, spoke publicly on national radio and television, and was increasingly quoted across the nation.

With the startlingly rapid fall of the Taliban, and the formation of an interim government, she was invited to take part in the citizens’ parallel conference in Bonn in 2001. She also played a key role in convening Muslim women and others for a conference titled, “Transition Within Tradition: Restoring Women’s Participation in Afghanistan.” Its message: “To create sustainable change and prevent a backlash from highly traditional elements, changes in women’s roles must be couched within Afghan culture and its historical and religious framework.”

The group examined women’s potential participation in the political, educational, and economic sectors from Islamic and Afghan points of view, and made recommendations; the report issued from this work is being made available to Western policymakers and also used to support moderate Islamic points of view.

Early in 2002, Rina Amiri left the United States to go home to Kabul to work for reconstruction, a courageous step in a still highly unsettled political and military climate. Once in Afghanistan, she helped to mobilize and prepare women to participate in the Emergency Loya Jirga, (the traditional Afghan Grand Council) and was one of he monitors during the elections in which more than 1,500 delegates elected former interim leader Hamid Karzai as Head of State for Afghanistan’s Transitional Administration.

Rina is now working as an adviser to UNESCO and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in Kabul. She has been working with the United Nations as a Gender Adviser, setting up consultations with women activists throughout the country. “I am learning from the heroic women here,” she reports. “They are seizing this moment in history and finding ways to access opportunities to gain employment and an education after six years of being confined to their homes. I am transformed as a result of my work with them, and I feel privileged to be here now, to pay a debt to my homeland and to be part of that critical mass that could push the country into a period of peace and stability.” (see on hunt alternatives).

Expert Spotlight Rina Amiri has been preparing since she was a child for her present dynamic role as a peace builder and reconstruction strategist in her devastated homeland, Afghanistan. It is a role she has longed for, and to which she has been passionately committed for as long as she can remember. Yet before the events of September 2001, it seemed inconceivable that she could return to her country, devastated by decades of invasion, clan warfare, drought, and famine. She was only five years old when her family fled Kabul after the King was overthrown and exiled, and she vividly recalls the terror, confusion, and hardship her family and others endured as they scrambled for shelter in other countries.

Her family’s path led through Pakistan, then India, and they finally settled near San Francisco. “There were only about one hundred Afghans in the Bay area back then,” she recalls. “Yet we had a strong national identity”. Rina felt obligated to use her intelligence and experience toward her goal of one day helping to heal her devastated country. After college, she focused on developing conflict resolution skills, and began working for the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

During her time there, Rina was a central participant in the Women Waging Peace program’s annual colloquium, which gathered peace activists from conflict areas around the world. Yet in her own homeland, she could see only despair, as the Soviet withdrawal in l989 gave way to Afghan civil war, followed by the rise of the Taliban extremists. In the shock of the World Trade Center attacks, she had only one thought: “We are going to be refugees again.”

She was afraid that she and her fellow Afghans would be feared and hated, and forced to leave the only home she had known for a quarter of a century. She felt compelled to speak out, emphasizing that not all Muslims think the same or hate America. Overnight, she became a spokesperson for her country, advocating for women’s rights and refugee assistance. She wrote opinion pieces, spoke publicly on national radio and television, and was increasingly quoted across the nation.

With the startlingly rapid fall of the Taliban, and the formation of an interim government, she was invited to take part in the citizens’ parallel conference in Bonn in 2001. She also played a key role in convening Muslim women and others for a conference titled, “Transition Within Tradition: Restoring Women’s Participation in Afghanistan.” Its message: “To create sustainable change and prevent a backlash from highly traditional elements, changes in women’s roles must be couched within Afghan culture and its historical and religious framework.”

The group examined women’s potential participation in the political, educational, and economic sectors from Islamic and Afghan points of view, and made recommendations; the report issued from this work is being made available to Western policymakers and also used to support moderate Islamic points of view.

Early in 2002, Rina Amiri left the United States to go home to Kabul to work for reconstruction, a courageous step in a still highly unsettled political and military climate. Once in Afghanistan, she helped to mobilize and prepare women to participate in the Emergency Loya Jirga, (the traditional Afghan Grand Council) and was one of the monitors during the elections in which more than 1,500 delegates elected former interim leader Hamid Karzai as Head of State for Afghanistan’s Transitional Administration.

Rina is now working as an adviser to UNESCO and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in Kabul. She has been working with the United Nations as a Gender Adviser, setting up consultations with women activists throughout the country. “I am learning from the heroic women here,” she reports. “They are seizing this moment in history and finding ways to access opportunities to gain employment and an education after six years of being confined to their homes. I am transformed as a result of my work with them, and I feel privileged to be here now, to pay a debt to my homeland and to be part of that critical mass that could push the country into a period of peace and stability.” (see on hunt alternatives).

“It’s very muddled. It’s hard to say whether women are hurting more or are progressing more right now,” Rina Amiri, adviser to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in Kabul, said Monday (Jan. 6) at the Kennedy School of Government (KSG).

Amiri, a former senior associate for research at the Kennedy School’s Women and Public Policy Program, spoke on the plight of Afghan women during a noon event in the KSG’s Taubman Building’s fifth-floor conference room. The event was co-sponsored by the Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy and the Women and Public Policy Program.

The complexity of the situation, Amiri said, has humbled her since she returned to Afghanistan last year to mobilize women and prepare for the Afghan Grand Council, or Loya Jirga – the process that selected the current Afghan government.
Amiri, who left Afghanistan at age 4 for the United States, said she felt conflicted and devastated when the United States attacked Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.

Rina Amiri returned to her native Afghanistan in February 2002 to take part in peace building and reconstruction efforts following three decades of instability and war. Currently a political affairs officer in the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General at the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, she serves as a member of the political unit implementing the Bonn Peace Accords.

In preparation for the 2003 Constitutional Loya Jirga, Ms. Amiri oversaw and managed elections for women, nomads, refugees, and minorities at risk in the 32 provinces of Afghanistan and in the refugee camps in Iran and Pakistan. During the 2002 Emergency Loya Jirga, she served as a member of the organizing team and monitored the presidential election process. She has also taken a leading role in supporting women’s right to political participation. Her efforts have ranged from advising the Ministry of Women’s Affairs to training women leaders from various parts of the country on political participation. Ms. Amiri worked also on the 2004 presidential election process. (see hunt alternatives).

Rina Amiri fights for women’s rights America, where she’s a tireless worker for the rights of oppressed women. Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Amiri, a senior research associate at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, wrote opinion pieces about women’s rights in Afghanistan and the importance of helping her country’s refugees. She helped organize a conference at Harvard for Muslim women, discussing women’s participation in all aspects of life in Afghanistan. In 2002, she went to Kabul to help in the reconstruction of the country. She is now a member of Women Waging Peace, and a United Nations political officer in Afghanistan. (Go to Cincinnati.com, and pull down).

links:

Create a world where women can walk ANYWHERE, EVERYWHERE;

Until September 11, she was simply a student at Fletcher;

Seven Who Will Not Be Stopped;

A Woman’s Work;

transcripts CNN.com;

Can Afghan Women Feed the Hunger for Democracy?

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