From Democracy to Gender Apartheid

From Democracy to Gender Apartheid: Canada's Foreign Policy and the Deteriorating Human Rights Situation in Afghanistan

October 12, 2023 | 4:00PM - 6:00PM
Online & in-person
Asian Institute, Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies

This event is over

This hybrid event took place in-person in the Campbell Conference Facility, Munk School, 1 Devonshire Place, Toronto and online via Zoom.
In the midst of an ever-evolving and dire situation in Afghanistan, where the transition from a fragile democracy to a disheartening state of Gender Apartheid compounded by Humanitarian crisis, and growing security threats, this event examines the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. It focuses on Canada's foreign policy towards the country, addressing the competing priorities between upholding human rights, women's rights, and civil liberties on one side and tackling the dire humanitarian conditions potentially faced by its people on the other.
During the event, the Farsi translation of Professor Karima Bennoune’s treatise on “Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan” will also be launched/distributed by AISS.
About the Speakers:
Aisha Ahmad is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto, a Senior Fellow at Massey College, and a Member of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists, and Scientists. She is the author of the multiple award-winning book Jihad & Co.: Black Markets and Islamist Power (Oxford University Press, 2017), and the forthcoming edited volume Securing Canada’s Future: Vital Insights from Women Experts (University of Toronto Press, 2024). Her article, “The Security Bazaar,” published in the flagship journal International Security, won the 2017 Best Security Article Award from the International Studies Association. Her article “The Long Jihad: The Boom-Bust Cycle Behind Jihadist Durability” was awarded Best Article in the Journal of Global Security Studies for 2021. With respect to her teaching, Dr. Ahmad is the 2018 winner of the Northrop Frye Award of Excellence for outstanding contributions to co-curricular learning and pedagogical innovation, and the 2018 recipient of the University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus (UTSC) Assistant Professor Award for outstanding contributions to undergraduate teaching at the Scarborough campus. She has conducted fieldwork in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Mali, Iraq, and Lebanon, and has spent over a decade advising senior leaders in military, government, and international organizations on global security policy.
Zarqa Yaftali is a peace builder and an advocate for women’s and children rights, in Afghanistan. She is founder of Women and Children Research and Advocacy Network. Since 2007, she has served as Executive Director of the Women and Children Legal Research Foundation (WCLRF), where she has conducted legal and field research in Afghanistan on the topic of violence and discrimination against women and girls, access to education, women participation in peace process  as well as sexual harassment against women, access to justice, and property rights.  She is founder of Women and Children Research and Advocacy Network. In October 2020, on the occasion of the 20th-anniversary of UNSCR 1325, she was selected to represent civil society and brief at the UN Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security.  She also briefed the UNSC about protecting the participation of women peace makers on 19 January 2021. She was also recognized for her tireless advocacy as the recipient of UNDP’s prestigious 2019 N-Peace Award, which highlights the contributions of peacebuilders toward implementation of the WPS agenda. Yaftali was member of the High Council for National Reconciliation. She is also member of various national and regional civil society organizations and advocacy groups, including the Secretariat of the Civil Society Joint Working Group, board member of Women Living under Muslim Laws WLUML, Champion of girl’s education in Afghanistan, Co-Chair of the Women, Peace Security  Working Group, Member of International Civil society Network ICAN and board member of the Women Regional Network.
Bilal Sarwary is an Afghan journalist who has worked extensively with Western media. He has covered Afghanistan for the BBC since 2001, the year in which the US-led invasion toppled the Taliban. He is an independent scholar majoring in the central linkages between warfare, drugs and terrorism. He graduated from Middlebury College, Vermont in 2010. His thesis was entitled The Farcification of Taliban, and it involved a comparison of Columbia's FARC with the Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgency.
Zuhal Ahad is a journalist from Afghanistan who is currently an associate editor at Chatelaine; a Canadian magazine. Zuhal is a 2022-2023 William Southam Journalism Fellow at Massey College of the University of Toronto. Previously, she has worked as a multimedia Women’s Affairs journalist with the BBC in Afghanistan from 2018 to 2022. After the fall of Afghanistan, Zuhal has published articles related to human rights and Women's rights violations on the Guardian, NPR, TRT, the National and Al Jazeera. Zuhal holds two bachelor’s degrees; a major in Business administration; focusing in management from the American university of Afghanistan and bachelors in communication and journalism from Kabul university.
Shoaib Rahim is an Associate Professor of Practice at the American University of Afghanistan and is currently also lecturing a course on Afghanistan at The Munk School CERES Program of the University of Toronto. He is the former Deputy Mayor and Mayor of Kabul and also closely involved in Afghanistan peace delegation in the Doha peace process. He is a Fulbright Scholar and a New School Fellow.
The event is co-sponsored by the Afghanistan Institute for Strategic Studies (AISS), the Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, the Eurasia Initiative, and the Asian Institute of the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto.
Asian Institute, Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies
Mustafa Aryan


Aisha Ahmed Headshot
Aisha Ahmad

Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto

Zarqa Yaftali headshot
Zarqa Yaftali

Director of the Women and Children Research and Advocacy Network

Bilal Sarwary Headshot
Bilal Sarwary


Zuha Ahad headshot
Zuhal Ahad


Shoaib Rahim headshot
Shoaib Rahim

Associate Professor of Practice, American University of Afghanistan