An ambassador, a professor, and a U.S. diplomat advocate for those facing danger at home and uncertainty abroad
When the Taliban took over Kabul last August, Afghanistan’s ambassador to the United States was an alumna of The Fletcher School at Tufts University. A few months later, another Fletcher alumna became the U.S. special envoy for Afghan women, girls, and human rights. Meanwhile, a third Fletcher alumna who’s a senior expert on the Afghanistan peace process was helping Afghan academics who were in danger make their way to safety abroad. Here are the stories, in brief, of these three remarkable women.
An Envoy Focuses on Afghan Women
When the U.S. military withdrew from Afghanistan, Rina Amiri, F07, argued that not enough was done to protect women’s rights activists there and hold the Taliban accountable on the rights of women and minorities.
Now, it’s her job to do just that. Amiri was named special envoy for Afghan women, girls, and human rights by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in late December.
Amiri, who was born in Afghanistan, previously served in the State Department as senior advisor to the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. More recently, she was a senior fellow at New York University’s Center on International Cooperation, where she directed the Afghanistan and Regional Policy Initiative.
Helping Scholars Who Fell through the U.S. Safety Net
As the chaotic U.S. airlift unfolded in Afghanistan, Dipali Mukhopadhyay, F05, F11, began to work around the clock to help academics who were in danger, but might be overlooked in the evacuation.
“Your chance of getting out was correlated with whether you were proximate to the Americans, to the American military, to American contractors,” said Mukhopadhyay, who is a senior expert on the Afghanistan peace process for the U.S. Institute of Peace and associate professor of global policy at the University of Minnesota.
“Many of the people that I knew had very deliberately not constructed their lives that way,” she said. “They were journalists. They were academics and writers and artists and professors at universities and activists. They had never worked for the Americans in any formal capacity, which essentially meant that they did not qualify in any immediate way as being part of this theoretical safety net that was cast over the people that were our ‘allies and friends.’ But activists, writers, journalists, and professors had been part of campaigns of assassination by the Taliban in recent years.”
Mukhopadhyay has been working with the Scholars at Risk Network and the Scholar Rescue Fund to help students and professors in peril to leave Afghanistan for universities abroad.
“It’s very slow,” she said. “I’d say we’re talking dozens who have gotten what they need and thousands who have not.”
An Ambassador Tries to Carry On
Adela Raz, F11, was in sixth grade when the Taliban first came to power in 1996; she continued her education in secret for the next five years. When the militant group retook Kabul in August, Raz had just arrived in Washington, D.C., as Afghanistan’s ambassador to the United States.
Even though the government that had appointed her collapsed, Raz continued to show up at the embassy and speak out on behalf of Afghans, calling for humanitarian aid to address widespread hunger in the country.
“Our economy collapses further each day as the currency weakens and more and more businesses close,” she said at a virtual policy roundtable hosted by Women in International Security and the Embassy of Ambassador Tries to Carry On Liechtenstein in December. “Aid should not be politicized.”