Human Rights Advocate Mary Akrami was one of 70 activists, peacemakers, and religious and community leaders from 25 countries who attended the Carter Center’s annual Human Rights Defenders Forum in late July to discuss “Restoring Faith in Freedom.”
The forum focused on economic and social rights, building faith in institutions, strengthening the social contract, and the recent backlash again human rights defenders. The forum also showcased the experiences of the courageous women and men on the front lines of the fight for human rights.
Akrami is the Executive Director of the Afghan Women Skills Development Center (AWSDC), which focuses on the needs of Afghan women, including widows and the disabled or chronically ill, and orphan children. In 2003, AWSDC established the first known shelter for women at risk in Afghanistan. She attended the Human Rights Advocates Program in 2009.
At the Forum, Akrami discussed the work of AWSDC in promoting empowerment and peace. “Women’s economic empowerment empowers the whole community, which reduces violent extremism. I’m not an economics expert, but this is the only way for us to play our role.”
Akrami has spent her career advocating and campaigning for women’s inclusion in the political and peace building processes in Afghanistan. She has been leading AWSDC in the field of women’s rights and has, since its founding, initiated community-based peace councils that provide women with a safe environment for conflict resolution.
Akrami is currently on the Board of Directors for Afghan Women’s Network (AWN). AWN is a comprised of 125 women’s organizations in Afghanistan that work together to strengthen cooperation and integration of women into Afghan society.