Empowerment and Agency: Contradictions of Western Support to Afghan Women

with Muqaddesa Yourish, J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Visiting Professor of International Affairs

"The Shapiro Lecture Series: Empowerment and Agency: Contradictions of Western Support to Afghan Women with headshot of speaker

Afghan women's rights have been at the heart of Afghanistan's internationally sponsored development agenda for the past two decades. But today, more than ever, these rights seem far-reaching and unattainable. One contributing factor to the fragility of these gains has been the problematic western approach to this agenda, underlined by misconceptions and contradictions. These misconceptions have undermined Afghan women's political agency and reduced them to victims at the mercy of foreign donors. It has also branded the agenda of women's rights as "foreign" rather than a continuation of a long indigenous battle for emancipation. As the Taliban continues to tighten its grip on power and limit the rights of women, such mischaracterizations of the women of Afghanistan and their gains and achievements in the last two decades continue to be counterproductive.

MUQADDESA YOURISH

A former government executive in Afghanistan, Muqaddesa Yourish is currently the J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Visiting Professor of International Affairs. Ms. Yourish fled Afghanistan with her family in response to the Taliban regaining control of the government in August 2021. She has held several government posts, including former deputy minister for commerce and industry of Afghanistan, commissioner for the civil service commission of Afghanistan, and the director of human resources for Kabul Municipality. A thought leader/community leader, and award winner, Ms. Yourish is a frequent commentator for her country’s political scene and is a strong voice for young citizens of her generation and Afghan women. 

ABOUT THE SHAPIRO LECTURE

Established by the J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Foundation, the Shapiro Professorship in International Affairs seeks to appoint distinguished figures in diplomacy whose experiences and reputations bring an added measure of excellence to teaching and scholarship within the Elliott School.

This event is on the record and open to the media.