The U.S. Marines and Afghan Women

Public lecture
Open to the Public
Nador u. 9, Monument Building
Friday, March 14, 2014 - 5:30pm
Add to Calendar
Friday, March 14, 2014 - 5:30pm

Presentation at the Center for Conflict, Negotiation and Recovery and the School of Public Policy

Friday, March 14, 2014, 5:30 p.m.
Gellner room, Nador street 9

The U.S. Marines and Afghan Women
How Does Counter-Insurgency Deal with Half the Population?

Recently Afghan women once again took center stage in the thinking of the U.S. military. A decade after the invasion of the country had been rhetorically justified, at least in part and after the fact, as a mission to save women, they were being seen as a way to resolve a conflict that the United States and its NATO allies could not end. Sippi Azarbaijani-Mohaddam was an advisor to U.S. forces and saw from the inside the way in which the U.S. military tried to engage women in the hope that they would persuade men to stop the insurgency.

The 'hidden' world of Afghan family dynamics was assumed to hold the key to public actions. It was this key which had to be discovered and wielded to bring half the population, as well as the male children, into the legitimate fold of the Kabul government. It was expected that the men would inevitably follow.

Groups of military women, known as Female Engagement Teams were meant to build rapport with Afghan women and thereby win support from their families and communities. Sippi had direct access to a wealth of first-hand information on what FETs were actually achieving, as well as how the military devised and implemented the idea.

Sippi Azarbaijani-Mohaddam worked in Afghanistan for 16 years, focusing on development and gender. From 2010, she was a cultural advisor to ISAF commanders in southern Afghanistan. She worked in Afghanistan when it was under Taliban rule and has since held positions with several development organizations. Most recently she has been a gender mainstreaming advisor in Indonesia for the World Bank. She has a Masters in Rural Development from the University of Birmingham.