Asila Wardak is an Afghan leading women’s right activist and former diplomat. She was one of the Afghan delegates to the Doha Peace Talks with the Taliban in 2019. She served as Director General of UN affairs in the Afghan Foreign Ministry before the government’s collapsed in August 2021. She is a cofounder and commissioner of the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
Ms. Wardak served as Minister Counselor to the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations. She also worked as Director General of Human Rights and International Women’s Affairs at Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In addition, she served as a Social Development Specialist for the World Bank, and she has worked with major organizations such as UN Development Programme, the Asian Development Bank, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Care International, and the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives within the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). During the first Taliban regime, in the late 1990s, she served Afghan refugees, particularly women and children, organizing aid assistance and training to establish local NGOs protecting women’s rights.
Through numerous initiatives to protect human rights and civil society empowerment, she has been central to women’s meteoric rise in her country. She has spoken with a clarion voice, calling for social justice, women’s protection in personal and professional settings, women’s political participation, and the active and essential role of women in peace processes, including negotiations.
Ms. Wardak has authored major historical overviews, current analyses, and a UN-mandated national strategy for women’s full participation across Afghan society, including the security sector.
In 2001, she was one of the female delegates at the Bonn conferences, establishing the post-Taliban government, and was a political appointee to multiple Jirgas (traditional Grand Assemblies) to approve the new constitution and establish a sustainable peace.
She holds a master’s degree in international relations and diplomacy from Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey, and is a Distinguished Fellow at Howard University in Washington, DC.