The Fate of Civil Society in Afghanistan, post-NATO

Updated: May 28

Ascend joined a panel of civil society veterans to discuss what the future may hold for Afghan women and girls once U.S. and NATO troops withdraw by September 11. Hosted by the German Marshall Fund of the United States and Common Ground, and moderated by award winning journalist Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, we fielded questions about how NGOs are adapting to deteriorating security conditions and what the international community should do to help ensure all is not lost for women's rights.

Panelists included:

  • Atia Abawi, Award-winning foreign correspondent and author, most recently of “She Persisted: Sally Ride,” which is part of a series created by Chelsea Clinton

  • Kathy Gannon, Award-winning News Director for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the Associated Press and author. She has covered the region since 1988

  • Marina Kielpinski LeGree, Founder and CEO of "Ascend," an NGO that trains Afghan girls to be leaders through community service and mountain climbing

  • Metra Mehran, A Fulbright Scholar who co-founded the Feminine Perspectives Movement, which provides a platform for women across Afghanistan to raise their voices and ensure their perspectives are reflected in the peace talks

  • Almut Wieland-Karimi, Executive Director of the Center for International Peace Operations

  • Ellinor Zeino, Afghanistan Country Director of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation


  • Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, "Common Ground" Host and former NPR Kabul Bureau Chief

Ascend's Kaisa Markhus filmed interviews with partner NGOs in Kabul to add to the context.

You can see those in the video of the panel at 22:34 (Ascend), 53:21 (Nowzad Dogs), and 1:04:45 (Enabled Children Initiative).

The event will be released as an episode of Common Ground podcast, hosted by Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, next week.

Watch the event above or on our YouTube channel here.

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