AFGHAN WOMEN EMPOWERMENT CONFERENCE SPEAKERS
Asma Rahimyar is a graduate of Southern Connecticut State University and a Rhodes Scholar winner. She has a Bachelor's degree in politics and international studies, as well as philosophy. She is the first-ever Rhodes winner from SCSU, as well as the first winner of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship for outstanding potential for leadership, commitment to public service, and academic excellence. She is currently studying at Oxford getting dual master’s degrees in criminology and forced migration and refugee studies. She intends to get her JD/Ph.D. and practice international human rights law, with the goal of advocating for the rights of refugees and immigrants.
Alia Seraj is the daughter of Prince Abdul Ali Seraj of Afghanistan, who—along with her American mother and two sisters—fled Afghanistan in 1978 to resettle in Connecticut. A marketing professional by day, Alia is passionate about the rights of Afghan women and children and the resettlement of Afghan refugees. Alia resides in Milford with her husband and two children.
Homeira Qaderi is an Afghan writer, activist, and educator. She has written six books, including a collection of short stories and her acclaimed novel Noqra: The Daughter of Kabul River. Before leaving Afghanistan, Qaderi taught at Gharjistan University, in Kabul, and worked as a senior advisor to both the minister of education and the minister of labor, social affairs, martyrs, and the disabled. While at Radcliffe, Qaderi is writing a novel, inspired by her own experiences, titled “The Scent of God.” It tells the story of a girl from the Kabul suburbs who is kidnapped during the Soviet-Afghan war and taken to St. Petersburg. After the fall of the Soviet Union, she returns to her hometown, which is under Taliban rule. The novel follows her experiences living under the Taliban rule and through the American invasion and her eventual immigration to Smyrna, Delaware. As she recovers, she reflects on her forced nomadism with nostalgia. Qaderi received her PhD in Persian literature from Jawaharlal Nehru University, in India. She was awarded the Malalai Medal—Afghanistan’s highest civilian honor—for exceptional bravery by President Ashraf Ghani. She was a writer in residence at the University of Iowa in 2015. Her first book in English translation, Dancing in the Mosque: An Afghan Mother’s Letter to Her Son, was excerpted by the New York Times and chosen by Kirkus Reviews as one of the best nonfiction books of 2020.
Samira Atash is an Afghan-American designer, artist, and entrepreneur based in Washington DC. She has a B.S. in Marketing from George Mason University. She has received international media coverage for her design work as well as starred as a lead actress in the film FireDancer, Afghanistan's first feature film to be entered into the Oscars. Currently, she hosts a TikTok video series called "Afghanistan History + Culture", with the goal of connecting East and West through cultural understanding.
Freshta Taeb is a family interventionist, behavioral health instructor, and cultural advisor. She holds a BA in Pre-law concentration on Theology and Political Science. She has a long and successful career serving the needs of others, specifically the marginalized, low-income refugee families of, mainly, South and Central Asian and Middle Eastern descent. She is a co-founder of “Sisters Empowering Sisters” a not-for-profit that aims at empowering women through education. She currently resides in NYC and in her free time enjoys promoting health and wellness within her local community through group fitness courses including Zumba and cardio kick boxing.
Mariam Atash is a TV anchor/host, public speaker, commentator, attorney, social entrepreneur, and Middle East expert. She has spoken on issues related to legal, foreign policy, business, and women's rights. She is also a Managing Partner of Prime Counsel, a law office in the Washington, DC.
Lina Rozbih is the managing editor at Voice of America. She started her career with VOA as radio broadcaster and worked her way up. She is an acclaimed and award-winning Afghan writer and poet in the Dari language. Her works include Dari and English short stories, poetry, as well as social and political commentaries, which have been published in major Dari , Pashtu, and English publications. She formerly served as the Dari Editor-in-Chief of Zeba, a socio-cultural and fashion magazine, as well as editorial columnist for The Omaid Weekly, The Ashian Magazine, and Washington Prism. Rozbih is a frequent speaker and panelist on Afghanistan issues and has been interviewed by Afghan and international media including the BBC, VOA, Radio Free Europe, Afghan German Online, Washington Prism, and others. She received her bachelor's degree in Political Science and International Relations from Concordia University and a second degree in Communications, Media & Cinema from Vanier College.
Mahbouba Seraj is an Afghan journalist and women’s right activist. She was born into royal lineage as the niece of King Amanullah Khan. She was a founding member of Afghan Women's Network and has dedicated her life to championing children’s health, battling corruption, and empowering victims of domestic violence. She is the creator of a radio program for women called “Our Beloved Afghanistan by Mahbouba Seraj” which has been broadcast all over Afghanistan. She has also advocated for women to be part of the political discourse, through a National Action Plan, encouraged by the United Nations. When the Taliban returned to power in August 2021, Seraj refused to flee the country, deciding to remain in Kabul to continue to work with women and children. In September 2021, she was included in Time's 100 most influential people in the world.