Afghan Women in Crisis

September 2, 2021 | Watch Video
Rina Amiri, Independent Policy and Mediation Advisor and Senior Fellow, NYU
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Author, The Daughters of Kobani
Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Executive Director, Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace & Security
Dr. Alyssa Ayres (Moderator), WFPG Board of Directors

The Women’s Foreign Policy Group hosted a panel on the current situation in Afghanistan and how it is affecting Afghan women. Our speakers Rina Amiri, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon and Ambassador Melanne Verveer spoke with moderator Dr. Alyssa Ayres about the many issues affecting Afghan women in the face of the recent takeover by the Taliban. During the discussion, the panelists covered the importance of the evacuation of Afghan women, the role of the United States and the international community in the wake of these events, the future of reproductive health care in Afghanistan, and more. Our speakers emphasized how the United States should play a leading role in supporting the independence and rights of women in Afghanistan, and that the international community must hold the Taliban accountable for the treatment of Afghan women.

Watch the Video | See WFPG's list of resources on how you can support Afghan women


Rina AmiriRina Amiri is currently an independent policy and mediation advisor and a senior fellow at NYU’s Center for International Cooperation and a senior fellow at NYU’s Center for Global Affairs. She brings over two decades of political expertise, advising and working with governments, the United Nations, and think tanks in various conflict settings in West and the Horn of Africa, the Middle East, Central and South Asia, and Europe. Previously, she served as a Senior Associate at Princeton’s Center for Innovations for Successful Studies, Senior Mediation Expert in the United Standby Team of Mediation Experts, and senior advisor to the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Ms. Amiri also served as a member of the United Nation’s Special Representative of the Secretary General’s political team in Afghanistan during the course of the implementation of the Bonn Agreement. Ms. Amiri has provided political analysis and commentary in a number of outlets including MSNBC, PBS, CNN, and CSPAN, and has been published and provided commentary in the New York Times, Boston Globes, Al-Jazeera America, Foreign Affairs, and the Los Angeles Times. She has been recognized as 125 Women of Impact by Newsweek and is a life-long member of the Council of Foreign Relations.

Gayle Tzemach LemmonGayle Tzemach Lemmon
is the author of the New York Times bestsellers, The Dressmaker of Khair Khana (2011), Ashley’s War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield (2015), and The Daughters of Kobani (2021). Ms. Lemmon, who serves as an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, previously covered politics at the ABC News Political Unit and led public policy analysis during the global financial crisis at the global investment firm PIMCO. Ms. Lemmon is a frequent speaker on national security topics, and she regularly appears on MSNBC, CNN, PBS, and NPR. Along with her national security work, she has reported and written extensively on topics including child marriage, school choice, single moms and the power and importance of girls’ ambition. Lemmon holds an MBA from Harvard and received the Dean’s Award for her work on women’s entrepreneurship. In addition to serving as a Robert Bosch Fellow in Germany, she served as a Fulbright scholar in Spain, on the board of the international aid organization Mercy Corps and is a member of the Bretton Woods Committee. She speaks Spanish, German and French and is conversant in Dari and Kurmanci.

Ambassador Melanne VerveerAmbassador Melanne Verveer
is the Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security. She previously served as the first US Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues. She has also served as the US Representative to the UN Commission on the Status of Women; Chair and Co-CEO of Vital Voices Global Partnership; and Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady during the Clinton Administration. She led the effort to establish the President’s Interagency Council on Women, and was instrumental in the adoption of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. She is the co-author of Fast Forward: How Women Can Achieve Power and Purpose (2015). Ambassador Verveer has a BS and MS from Georgetown University and holds several honorary degrees, and she is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission, and she serves on the Boards of the National Endowment for Democracy, the Atlantic Council, as well as the World Bank Advisory Council on Gender and Development. She has also served as the Special Representative on Gender Issues for the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Secretary of State’s Award for Distinguished Service.

Alyssa AyresDr. Alyssa Ayres
is dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University and a member of the WFPG Board of Directors. She also serves as an adjunct senior fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations, where her work focuses primarily on India’s role in the world and on US relations with South Asia in the larger Indo-Pacific. Before joining CFR, Dr. Ayres served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia (2010-2013), and prior to that was founding director of the India and South Asia practice at McLarty Associates, and prior to that served in the State Department as special assistant to the Undersecretary for Political Affairs as a CFR international affairs fellow. She is the author of Our Time Has Come: How India is Making Its Place in the World (2018) and Speaking Like a State: Language and Nationalism in Pakistan (2009). She speaks Hindi and Urdu.