Meet Mahnaz Afkhami

Mon, Oct 20, 2003


IranDokht / By Gissou Azarnia
Women in Washington Series (1)

Every year, legions of aspiring politicos and non-profiteers make their way to Washington D.C. in the hopes of establishing a name for themselves and their work. Our nation’s capital is a veritable Mecca for ambitious and brilliant minds, yet only some manage to stay afloat and even prosper in the tough dealings of this town. Included in that group is a contingent of prominent Iranian women that are making their name in the academia, policy work, and non-profit worlds. To begin this series, IranDokht takes a look at the Women’s Learning Partnership and its founder Mahnaz Afkhami…

The Women’s Learning Partnership was founded in response to appeals made to its president and founder Mahnaz Afkhami in the spring of 1999. Afkhami had just completed a five-year term as president of the Sisterhood is Global Institute and as she says in a 2002 interview with the World Movement for Democracy, the creation of the WLP ensued when “members of our [Sisterhood is Global] network…urged me to continue the work we had carried out for many years concentrating on leadership training for women…[thus] working with a group of women leaders from around the globe, I founded the Women’s Learning Partnership for Rights, Development, and Peace.”

Since its inception, the WLP and its dynamic web of staff, board members, and contributors have managed to develop programs and campaigns all with the core aim of placing women in decision-making positions of power, especially in the global South. The WLP seeks to do this through the reorientation of leadership standards of governance with increased emphasis on pluralism, diversity, conflict prevention, and democratic activism, as well as by engaging in and facilitating critical dialogue among women leaders to help implement long-term solutions on many issues in the international women’s movement. The most recent example of the WLP’s work is the conference entitled “Clash or Consensus? Gender and Human Security in a Globalized World” that the group organized in collaboration with The Global Fund for Women; the conference served to unite women leaders from over 20 different countries in a discussion of global security and the implications for women and was a rousing success.

Over the past years, the WLP has stayed true to its core mission statement and has focused full attention on the issue of women’s roles in global politics under the expert guidance of its founder Mahnaz Afkhami. Much of the group’s success as a respected international non-governmental organization can be attributed to Afkhami and her motivated team of staff. In political exile for more than a decade, Afkhami served as a minister for women’s affairs in the former Iranian Pahlavi government and came to the United States after the Khomeini regime made her line of work unsafe to continue in her native country. Afkhami is the author of numerous books and other publications and in addition to having founded and headed several international non-governmental organizations, she also serves on the boards and steering committees of numerous international organizations including The Global Fund for Women, Women’s Human Rights Net, World Movement for Democracy, Women’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch, the Commission on Globalization, and International League for Human Rights.

The WLP’s most noted accomplishments in empowering women in the global South take both specific and holistic forms. More pointed programs include the creation of an innovative leadership learning program that is done in collaboration with partner organizations in ten different countries and that focuses on introducing technology to women in developing nations. The program has led to the publication of a handbook entitled “Leading to Choices: A Leadership Training Handbook for Women” that has been translated from English into six other languages. The WLP has also pursued its chief mission of advancing women’s political clout by other methods that focus on a broader world solution. The May 12, 2002 WLP-sponsored debate entitled “Human Security: A Conversation” and the recent conference “Clash or Consensus?” both aimed to map out an approach to a definition of the concept of human security. By dealing with general issues of human security, the WLP hopes to improve the nature of human security along gender lines and thus allow women to ascend to positions of political power.

To find out more about the Women’s Learning Partnership Click: here.
To write to WLP: Click here.
Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP)
4343 Montgomery Avenue, Suite 201
Bethesda, MD 20814, USA

” The WLP’s most noted accomplishments in empowering women in the global South take both specific and holistic forms. ”

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About Mahnaz Afkhami

A lifetime advocate for the rights of women, Mahnaz Afkhami works with activists across the world, especially in Muslim majority societies, to help women become leaders. She is Founder and President of Women’s Learning Partnership for Rights, Development, and Peace (WLP), Executive Director of Foundation for Iranian Studies...more

Kudos to @RepRoKhanna & @RepMattGaetz on their bipartisanship efforts in passing the Khanna-Gaetz amendment in the #House. We're a step closer to preventing another unnecessary/costly war in the #ME. Congrats to @PAAIA & other allied #Iranian-#American orgs for their #advocacy.

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