Spotlight: Afghanistan: Where do we go from here? Ending violence against women and girls

Presented by ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

To commemorate the 'End Violence against Women' campaign (25 November - Decemeber 10), join  Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, ANU and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for a two-part conversation on the importance of addressing this issue in Afghanistan.

Over the last two decades, the United States and other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have invoked the rights of Afghan women and girls to help justify their military engagement in Afghanistan.

Following the US and NATO withdrawal, and with the recent spate of violence it is clear, that women and girls are facing immediate threats, in the country and elsewhere. In this context, what is the responsibility of the international community? What roles could human rights defenders and practitioners play in supporting women and girls?

Our experts will share their insights to offer an overview of different manifestations of violence against women and girls.

Recognising the importance of this issue and the different needs and attributes of girls/children, we have divided the conversations into two parts.

Panel 1
Supporting women's agenda: Access to justice and security

Date: 6 December 2021
Time: 7-8pm AEDT
Venue: Zoom
Speakers: Habiba Sarābi, May Maloney, Samira Hamidi
Moderator: Farkhondeh Akbari

Register for panel 1 here

Panel 2
Prioritising actions with girls: Access to protection and rights

Date: 8 December 2021
Time: 7-8 pm AEDT
Venue: Zoom
Speakers: Fereshta Abbasi, Freshta Karimi, Peter Giugni
Moderator: Bina D'Costa

Register for panel 2 here


Habiba Sarābi was a member of the Afghan Government's negotiation team, former deputy chair of High Peace Council and reformer during post-Taliban reconstruction in Afghanistan. In 2005, she was appointed as Governor of Bamyan which made her the first Afghan woman to become a governor of any province in the country. She previously served as Afghanistan's Minister of Women's Affairs as well as Minister of Culture and Education. Sarābi has been instrumental in promoting women's rights and representation and environmental issues.

Samira Hamidi is Regional Campaigner for Amnesty International South Asia Regional Office. Her work focuses on human rights, peace process, women's rights and transitional justice issues in Afghanistan. Previously she has worked with the EU delegation in Afghanistan, Norwegian Embassy, UN Women, CMI, Folke Bernadette Academy and Sweden Embassy as Freelance Consultant focusing on human rights, women, peace and security and civil society issues.

May Maloney is the Deputy Head of the Addressing Sexual Violence team for ICRC based in Geneva. She has over a decade's experience addressing sexual and gender-based violence, gender and diversity and social inclusion in the human rights, community development, torture and trauma, and humanitarian fields. Her work focuses on technical field support and leading the Sexual Violence team's humanitarian diplomacy priorities, operational research outcomes, and external relations.

Fereshta Abbasi graduated with an LLB in Law and Political Science from Herat University and an LLM in International Law and Strategic Studies from the University of Aberdeen. She is an accomplished human rights campaigner, and a vocal advocate for human rights. She has highlighted human rights abuses in Afghanistan for several years, especially as a researcher for Human Rights Watch.

Freshta Karim started her career at the age of 12 hosting children TV shows. She produced investigative reports on the situation of children in Afghanistan. Since then, she has continued to devote her time working for children's rights. She founded Charmaghz, a Kabul-based NGO dedicated to promoting critical thinking among children through providing resources and space on buses turned to mobile libraries.

Peter Giugni is an ICRC Regional Protection Advisor for the Asia-Pacific. He commenced with the ICRC in 2004 in Srinagar, India, as an Urdu interpreter. Since then, he has worked in a variety of roles, mostly protection focused, in Afghanistan, the Philippines, throughout the Middle East, the USA, and has held a few positions at headquarters. Prior to his current role, Peter managed an ICRC research project into the humanitarian consequences of urban warfare in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.


Bina D'Costa is a Professor at the Department of International Relations, ANU Coral Bell School of Asia-Pacific Affairs and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow. Through human rights framing, her research focuses on displaced children's protection in global humanitarian emergencies in trafficking, child/early marriage, exploitative child labour and sexual abuse contexts. Previously, as a UN staff member, she has worked in the Middle East, Horn of Africa, and South Asia, including in Afghanistan and Pakistan with Afghan displaced communities.

Farkhondeh Akbari is a PhD student at the ANU Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs. Her research focus is on diplomatic actors and peace settlements with non-state armed actors, looking at the negotiations with the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Farkhondeh has worked at Afghanistan's Independent Directorate of Local Governance, the United Nations Headquarters and Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.