Cheshmak Farhoumand-Sims – Canada & Afghanistan

Linked with our presentation of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

Cheshmak Farhoumand-Sims is a peace researcher, educator and practitioner completing her PhD studies at York University in Toronto in the Department of Political Science. Cheshmak received an Honours BA in peace and conflict studies from the University of Toronto and a M.Sc. in conflict analysis and resolution from the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, where she wrote her Master’s thesis on the subject of the psychological, cultural and religious dimensions of post-conflict reconciliation processes in intractable conflicts. In addition to these degrees, Cheshmak has studied at the Austrian Peace University and the United Nations Graduate Studies Program.

Cheshmak Farhoumand-Sims – Canada & Afghanistan

Cheshmak believes that women play an integral role in the development of their societies and that their absence from public discourse contributes to the stunted growth of the society as a whole. She is interested in exploring how religion and culture are often used to prevent women’s active participation in society and in considering how this impacts peacebuilding and reconstruction efforts. Her dissertation focuses on the relationship between the protection and promotion of women’s human rights and peacebuilding in conflict zones, where religion and culture serve as a barrier to women’s participation, such as the case in Afghanistan. She gained insight into these issues through her research, travels to Afghanistan, and participation at the Commission on the Status of Women, and the meeting of the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 2001. These experiences provided her with the opportunity to interview Afghan women in Afghanistan, and gender experts within the United Nations at the United Nations Division on the Advancement of Women, UNIFEM and 17 of the 21 experts that sit on the CEDAW committee.

Cheshmak has worked with a number of peace and human rights organizations, including the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy in Washington DC and the International Service for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland. She is actively involved with the Canadian Voices of Women for Peace, and sits on the Board of Directors of Peacebuilders International. Cheshmak is also a Member of the Canadian Committee on Women, Peace and Security, the Afghan Women’s Advocacy Committee of Canada.

Over the last three years, Cheshmak has been working on various projects relating to women and peacebuilding in Afghanistan. In 2001, she helped to organize a leadership and governance training workshop for 25 Afghan women in Canada, followed by a series of seven workshops on United Nations Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. She subsequently wrote the report about these roundtables. The report entitled “A Stone in the Water” was formally presented to Canada’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and other government officials in November 2002. She also authored a report on the “Media’s portrayals of Muslims and Afghans since September 11th.

In addition to her peace-related activities, Cheshmak regularly provides human rights, conflict resolution, and peace education training to community groups including the Peel Peace Campaign, and various interfaith, intercommunity peace initiatives. She is also a mediator and peacemaking circle facilitator.

In April 2003, Cheshmak traveled to Afghanistan to work on two projects. In the first project, she worked with the Afghan Women’s Organization, and provided training on gender/human rights and peacebuilding to women’s NGO’s, government employees and UNIFEM staff. In the second, she worked with Rights and Democracy and Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) on a project focusing on the Afghan Constitution, and the need to include a family code, which would protect women in the private sphere.

Since her return from Afghanistan, Cheshmak has given approximately 25 public talks about her experiences and work to acquaint Canadians with Afghanistan, its people and conflict and to share thoughts on the barriers to peace and how they can be overcome, as well as to raise funds in support of Women for Women in Afghanistan’s initiatives (www.w4wafghanistan.ca). She is also regularly called upon to speak at Afghanistan-related academic, NGO, and policy related symposia, consultations and meetings, and to review books and Afghanistan-related papers submitted for publication. She is looking forward to presenting a policy paper in Ottawa in November 2004.

Last year, Cheshmak lectured on peace studies at the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Centre for the Study of Peace and Conflict, and at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies at McMaster University. She also taught Canadian Foreign Policy at the University of Western Ontario. She received a dissertation fellowship from the Canadian Consortium for Human Security. She will teach again at McMaster University in the Winter 2005 term. Cheshmak is an active member of the Bahá’í community and is happily married and living in Toronto. (Read the rest of this presentation on Canadian Consortium on Human Security CCHS).

Publications:

Global Citizenship and Humanities Scholarship: Toward a Twenty-First Century Agenda;

Bahá’í-Inspired Perspectives on Human Rights.

links:

Asia Pacific Research;

Center for Peace Studies;

Advocacy, with texts in english, and one in Dari and Pashto;

Center for Feminist Research.

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