News and Events

Roundtable Focuses on Western Public Diplomacy and the Dialogue with Islamic Youth

Habiba Surabi, Afghanistan's Minister of Women's Affairs (top middle), discusses trends in young women's issues.

Rollie Lal (bottom left), a RAND expert on Central and South Asia, explains her views to others at the roundtable discussion in November.

December 2003 — IMEY's roundtable brought together the Afghan Minister of Women's Affairs, the Director of the German Foreign Office's Bureau for Dialogue with Islam - Berlin, a women's advocacy non-governmental organization, a leading scholar on rule of law, regional experts from RAND and others.

This dynamic group of experts discussed the role played by youth and gender issues in current nationbuilding situations. Minister Habiba Surabi described the detrimental effect of some Afghan tribal traditions to women's legal rights, their increased political participation, and to her ministry's education efforts. These traditions were contrary to Islam, and education was needed to better inform people about what the religion actually said.

Dr. Gunter Mulack of the German Foreign Office gave an overview of how his government hopes to better understand and remain in dialogue with Islamic countries and movements. One method has been to assign an "Islam observer" to the staff of each German embassy in the region.

Participants included:

Dr. Gunter Mulack, German Foreign Office, Bureau for Dialogue with Islam - Berlin
Hubert Lang, Embassy of Germany - Washington, DC
Dr. Habiba Surabi, Minister of Women's Affairs, Afghanistan
Arzo Mansury, Embassy of Afghanistan
Azada Alekozai, Minister of Women's Affairs, Afghanistan
Dr. Nathan Brown, George Washington University
Jolynn Shoemaker, Women Waging Peace
Dr. Cheryl Benard, RAND
Dr. Angel Rabasa, RAND
Dr. Rollie Lal, RAND
Dr. Olya Oliker, RAND