This presentation provides an overview of United States-led aid and development in Afghanistan (2001-2021) focused on increasing women's rights through various projects and programs such as educational opportunities, job skills training, and political participation. This overview will include critical reflections on and an examination of these international interventions, such as the challenges, opportunities, successes, and failures. Many projects and programs fell short due to several factors. These include endemic problems such as viewing Afghan women as a singular group rather than one that is extensively diverse with divergent views, compounded by complex and disparate experiences and social contexts. The donor-driven model of many international assistance programs included a profound inability to listen to Afghan women and incorporate their disparate ideas. Different ideological and methodological approaches were necessary to meet the diverse needs, aspirations, and expectations of women due to the distinct social, cultural, economic, and political contexts within which they live. The information discussed in this presentation is drawn from over two decades of research on feminist activism, international assistance, and women’s leadership in Afghanistan.
About the speaker
Jennifer L. Fluri is professor and chair of the Department of Geography at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She is a feminist political geographer whose research examines conflict, gender, geopolitics, international aid, and economic development in Afghanistan. She has published more than 30 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters and several co-authored books. In 2017, she and Rachel Lehr co-authored The Carpetbaggers of Kabul and Other American-Afghan Entanglements, published by the University of Georgia Press. Fluri graduated from Penn State with her master's degree in geography in 2001 and her doctorate in geography and women’s studies in 2005.