IFIT International Advisory Council

Shaharzad Akbar

Shaharzad Akbar is the Chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. Previously, she served as Deputy National Security Council on Peace and Civilian Protection as well as Senior Advisor to Afghan President on High Development Councils (August 2017 – August 2018) where she coordinated the prioritization of development projects and programs for executive decision-making. Prior to this, Shaharzad was Country Director for Open Society Afghanistan (September 2014 – July 2017), a non-profit that supports Afghan civil society and media in areas of peacebuilding, human rights and promoting tolerance. Before this, Shaharzad was partner and chief operating officer with QARA Consulting, a firm owned and run by young Afghans in Kabul which she co-founded in 2010; an analyst for the Free and Fair Elections Foundation; a journalist for BBC Afghanistan; and a research assistant on the Women of Courage book project. In 2012, she was the first elected chairperson for the Afghanistan 1400 movement.

Born in Jawzjan, Afghanistan in 1987, Shaharzad lived for a few years as refugee in Pakistan during the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Shaharzad completed an MPhil at Oxford University as a Weidenfeld scholar in 2011; previously she obtained her BA (cum laude) in anthropology from Smith College in the U.S.

Shaharzad’s writing has appeared in international and Afghan media including Newsweek and Al Jazeera, and in academic journals. In 2017, she was selected by World Economic Forum as Young Global Leader.

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