March 31, 2015 — Phyllis Magrab, PhD, vice chair of the U.S. Afghan Women’s Council (USAWC) based at Georgetown University, says the new president of Afghanistan reaffirmed his “continued strong commitment” to women’s issues when the two met recently in Washington.
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and the country’s CEO, Abdullah Abdullah, visited the United States in mid-March. Magrab lead the USAWC’s delegation to several events involving the two leaders.
“The Council has been proud to be a part of the positive trajectory in Afghanistan, including more girls in school, decreased maternal mortality and infant morbidity, as well as increased opportunities for economic development,” Magrab says.
“Dr. Magrab had a momentous week, leading our delegation in meetings with President Ghani and members of the U.S. Congressional Afghan Women's Task Force,” said S. Najlaa Abdus-Samad, executive director of USAWC and a State Department employee. “Last week marked a reset between the U.S. and Afghanistan and USAWC is pleased to be an active participant in that relationship.”
On March 25, Magrab represented Georgetown University and USAWC co-chair President John J. DeGioia, PhD, on Capitol Hill, where she attended Ghani’s speech before a joint session of Congress.
During a closed meeting later in the day, Magrab and USAWC co-chair Catherine Russell, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, met with Ghani and Abdullah, who previously served on the Council in his role as foreign affairs minister, along with members of the U.S. Congressional Afghan Women's Task Force.
Magrab engaged the Afghan President on his thoughts about this new era in his country and how interested parties can remain engaged with the onward progress for women and children. “Both President Ghani and Dr. Abdullah pledged their continued strong commitment to women’s issues,” Magrab says.
The night before, Magrab and USAWC members attend the official state dinner for Ghani and Abdullah, hosted by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
In February, the USAWC partnered with Georgetown Institute for Women in Peace and Security to host Afghanistan’s First Lady Rula Ghani. Ghani became the first Afghan first lady to co-chair the council and join its leadership, which includes former U.S. First Lady Laura Bush and former First Lady and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as honorary co-chairs.
In addition to her role as USAWC co-chair, Magrab is director of the Center for Child and Human Development at Georgetown University Medical Center. She is also a consultant to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and holds a UNESCO chair.
By Karen Teber