Archive | Articles

Leadership and Learning Societies

Sunday, July 1, 2001

jump (cc) Bernat CaseroIn Leading to Choices: A Leadership Training Handbook for Women
To lead is to communicate. For leadership to exist, we need at least two people who in some way relate to each other. No one can lead in isolation. Leadership, therefore, is a form of communication. Leadership is also an influence process; it is about going somewhere. To go somewhere, one needs to have a goal, a vision. Leadership, therefore, cannot be aimless. It has to have direction or it is not leadership.

Harnessing Technology to Advance Women’s Human Rights

Thursday, February 1, 2001

VideoMuslimWomen (cc) Rennett StoweIn Raising Our Voices / The Global Fund for Women
We are now in the midst of a communications revolution that is changing the nature of power. Information technology has made communicating globally as easy as conversing locally, forcing governments and companies to further reorient themselves to the requirements of global competition. Nation states are being squeezed between the demands of global competition and the social needs of local populations. Globalization has already widened the gap separating the haves and have-nots everywhere. Unless we harness the evolving technology, the future, potentially bright, will descend darkly, without our knowledge, input, or permission. What we must do is harness technology’s powers for our own uses.

Gender Apartheid, Cultural Relativism, and Women’s Human Rights in Muslim Societies

Monday, January 1, 2001

GenderApartheidCulturalRelativismWomensHumanRightsIn Women, Gender, and Human Rights: A Global Perspective / Marjorie Agosín (ed.)
In modern times, women have moved from the margins to the center of history playing increasingly important roles in families, communities, and states across the world. As women became increasingly aware and assertive, their demands for equality, participation, and access elicited reactions that range from curtailing their right to the privacy of their bodies and minds to policies that deny them experiences that are essential to their ability to compete in society. The infringement of women’s rights is usually exercised in the name of tradition, religion, social cohesion, morality, or some complex of transcendent values. Always, it is justified in the name of culture.

At the Crossroads of Tradition & Modernity: Personal Reflection

Friday, November 3, 2000

Woman in traditional dress in Palermo (cc) Maria Rosaria SanninoIn SAIS Review / The Johns Hopkins University Press
Women in Muslim societies are not helpless. They have powerful potential. Because the problems of tradition and modernity are posed more vividly for them, they are at the forefront of the struggle to reconcile the universality of human rights with the specificity of religious and cultural contexts. They are the future of Muslim societies, if the future is to accord with democracy and civility. Because of the growing disparity between North and South in access to information, the most pivotal need at the moment is to provide women of the South with the necessary tools to participate in the global dialogue that increasingly affects decisions about economic transfers, grassroots developments, gender parity, and individual rights, among others.

Architects of Peace

Sunday, October 1, 2000

Architects of Peace

Essay in Architects of Peace: Visions of Hope in Words and Images / Michael Collopy and Jason Gardener (eds.) / Also in Persian
A compilation of essays by 75 leading peacemakers – spiritual leaders, politicians, scientists, artists, and activists. Afkhami states that, “The end of the Cold War removed the immediate causes of wholesale destruction–but not the threat that is contained in our knowledge. We must tame this knowledge with the ideals of justice, caring, and compassion summoned from our common human spiritual and moral heritage, if we are to live in peace and serenity in the 21st century.”

Cultural Relativism and Women’s Human Rights

Saturday, January 1, 2000

movement (cc) Lieven SoeteIn Women and International Human Rights Law / Kelly D. Askin and Dorean M. Koenig (eds.)
It is naive to suppose that rights that are universally identified and defined, regardless of their intrinsic value, may be implemenated in defiance of values, rules, and customs that are locally prescribed in the name of culture. This problem, however, is a matter of practical exigency. The central problem of cultural relativism is that it must deny rights to women (or men) who have become aware that they posess rights because they possess an identity that is theirs independently of the community to which they belong.

A Vision of Gender in Culture

Saturday, November 6, 1999

headdress (cc) eliodoroBy Mahnaz Afkhami
In Culture in Sustainable Development: Investing in Culture and Natural Endowments / Ismail Serageldin and Joan Martin-Brown (eds.)
Some of us who have worked in the field of women’s rights know how difficult it is to get the idea across that the whole concept of development and progress hinges on culture change and that culture change involves a change in the relation of women to each other and to other members of society.

A Woman in Exile

Saturday, May 1, 1999

AWomenInExileMapofHopeIn A Map of Hope / Marjorie Agosin (ed.)
We have learned first hand that nothing is worth the suffering, death, and destruction brought about by ideologies that in their fervor uproot so much and destroy so many and then fade away, blow up, or self-destruct. We have paid with the days of our lives for the knowledge that nothing good or beautiful can come from harshness and ugliness.

Promoting Women’s Rights in the Muslim World

Tuesday, April 1, 1997

PromotingWomensRightsInTheMuslimWorldIn Journal of Democracy
To gain the strength necessary to meet the challenges they face, women around the world must come together in a spirit of global cooperation. Through its conferences and workshops, its human rights education project, its urgent action alert system, and its outreach program and publications, SIGI is working to create an atmosphere of understanding and solidarity among women that transcends divisions based on race, nationality, class, religion, and political orientation.

A Peaceful Revolution: Review of the Activities and Achievements of the Women’s Organization of Iran (In Persian)

Wednesday, January 1, 1997

In Iran Nameh / A Peaceful Revolution: Review of the Activities and Achievements of the Women’s Organization of Iran

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