Mahnaz Afkhami Testifies at U.S. Senate Hearing “Women and the Arab Spring”

Wed, Nov 2, 2011

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U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

Subcommittee on International Operations and Organizations, Human Rights, Democracy, and Global Women’s Issues Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs


Senators Boxer and Casey


Wednesday, November 02, 2011


02:30 PM


419 Senate Dirksen Office Building

Panel one

The Honorable Melanne Verveer
Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues
United States Department of State
Washington, DC
Dr. Tamara Wittes
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs and Deputy Special Coordinator for Middle East Transitions
United States Department of State
Washington, DC

Panel two

Ms. Manal Omar
Director of Iraq, Iran, and North Africa Programs
United States Institute of Peace
Washington, DC
Ms. Mahnaz Afkhami
Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP)
Bethesda, Maryland

Professor Sandra Bunn-Livingstone, Esq.

President and CEO
Washington, DC

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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

Quotables – Muslim Women

"The most taxing contradiction [Muslim women] face casts the demands of living in the contemporary world against the requirements of tradition as determined and advanced by the modern Islamist world view. At the center of this conflict is the dilemna of Muslim women’s human rights – whether Muslim women have rights because they are human beings, or whether they have rights because they are Muslim" - Faith and Freedom: Introduction

"To the extent that Islam, defined and interpreted by traditionalist "Muslim" men, is allowed to determine the context and contour of the debate on women's rights, women will be on the losing side of the debate because the conclusion is already contained in the premise and reflected in the process. This is the heart of the moral tragedy of Muslim societies in our time." - Gender Apartheid, Cultural Relativism, and Women's Human Rights

“Islam is not the problem. Rather it is the misuse of Islam by interpreting it to fit the needs of the partriarchal order - the powers that be - and the privileges that one gender has held over the other.” - How are women working to eliminate violence against women in Muslim-majority societies?