Honesty and Justice Drive Research Fellow’s Work at Marymount University’s Center for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Muzhgan Yarmohammadi is currently a research fellow at Marymount University’s Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), which works to strengthen the university’s commitment to “promoting diversity and equity in across the university and to strengthen ties with diverse communities in the Greater Washington, D.C. Area,” striving to create an atmosphere where “all Marymount students feel safe, accepted, included, needed, cherished, and seen”.
Yarmohammadi, who comes from a background in women’s rights and disability advocacy work, spoke to the News-Press about her background, her trip to America during the Taliban takeover last year and his work at Marymount.
Her passion for civil rights and equal representation is tied to the lives and experiences of women in Afghanistan, Yarmohammadi’s home country. She spent five years working at the National Democratic Institute (NDI) in Kabul to promote women’s political participation; before that, she worked with Handicap International. Between 2017 and 2021, her work focused on rule of law concerns as a senior program officer at the U.S. Institute for Peace in Afghanistan. She explained that her experiences in Afghanistan were based on decades of “international community involvement”.
“To ensure the return of 20 years of success,” says Yarmohammadi, “the fundamental problems of Afghanistan must be addressed,” especially after the Taliban takeover in August last year. She believes that people in academic and political spheres should “focus more on the achievements of women in education, health…law enforcement in the country” and other signs of social progress that “have just disappeared” after the United States withdrew.
Since Yarmohammadi and her family moved to life in Northern Virginia, there have been “over 30 policies” enacted by the Taliban and “all of them are against women’s rights.”
She stressed the importance of fighting against the rigid and destructive governance of the Taliban and that this can be done in relatively small ways here. The type of combat envisaged by Yarmohammadi “can also be fought in different civilian ways”.
“The Taliban do not have the support of the people” and they lack recognition and “support from the international community”, adds Yarmohammadi. Remarking poignantly and with a historical eye, she states that “history shows that tyrannical regimes do not last forever”.
In addition to the conflict, she spoke of a long history of poor “resource distribution” and a lack of “healthy competition” between the country’s different ethnic groups. Facilitating the involvement of all kinds of groups in governance is a big part of its purpose and work.
About her role at Marymount, she remarked that “since I joined…my involvement was on a small scale”.
“I contribute to some of the research that examines race relations and the Marymount community.” She also attends discussions on “women and the politics of Afghanistan,” which inspires her to paint the bigger picture and speak truths that may or may not have been ignored or overlooked in discussions on the Afghanistan and its social problems. Yarmohammadi shared that his team is “very supportive and grateful” and that working at Marymount provides him with a “unique accessibility to a great wealth of information and resources.”
She added that she had “the support of the DEI team” and that they “encourage me to write my story”. She considered working on a memoir, “or a short article” about her background, experiences and insight, with a lens on “historical issues” in Afghanistan as well, looking specifically at the past 20 years.
She also hopes to get “more connected with the student-run associations at Marymount” that do rights work related to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) and Dreamer (Development, Relief and Education Act). foreign minors).
Having had to put her studies on hiatus – Yarmohammadi started a masters program in international relations, peacebuilding and diplomacy in 2019 – she is “looking for ways to continue my studies here”. Education as a whole is a sphere she is passionate about as it relates directly to her work on women’s rights – women in Afghanistan can no longer receive higher education – and in the near future she has expressed a keen interest in teaching at some point.
Yarmohammadi said “it must be a lecture or a course”. Teaching people in detail about this multi-faceted subject would be a “way forward”. Women in Afghanistan “want to bring back those achievements” that have since been wiped out by the Taliban. She stressed that the issue of women’s rights and social justice must be seen alongside the political issues in Afghanistan.
Honesty, transparency and inclusiveness are cornerstones of Yarmohammadi’s experiences in advocacy and education. Speaking about the future of her country, she said women in Afghanistan are “always fighting for their rights. They are now stronger, more committed. Defending women’s rights and social justice in Afghanistan remains one of her main goals in the years to come.
The Center for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is located at Rowley Hall, Suite 1004, at Marymount University (2807 N Glebe Rd, Arlington). For more information, call 703-908-7863 or email [email protected]