Skip to main content

Afghanistan leader, activist concludes ASU lecture series

April 08, 2011

Marzia Basel, an important leader and activist with a long track record of working for women's rights in Afghanistan, will conclude ASU’s spring 2011 Humanities Lecture Series.

Basel will present “Gender, Religion, and Human Rights: Afghanistan’s Changes and Challenges” on Thursday, April 14. Hosted by ASU’s School of Letters and Sciences and the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, the lecture starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Nursing and Health Innovation Building Two, 550 N. Third St., Phoenix, Innovation Auditorium, Room 110.

The spring 2011 Humanities Lecture series is free and open to the public.

“Americans know little about Islam and what they know is all about extremism. Nobody is really talking with Muslims who practice real Islam,” Basel said. She added her lecture will focus on the challenges of Islam in Afghanistan, including how culture and tradition are mixed with religion, and the way in which rights, especially women’s rights, are addressed in her native country.

Basel is founder and director of the Afghanistan Progressive Law Organization and the Afghan Women's Judges Association. She has extensive training and experience in international relations, women in development, and law. She holds a bachelor's degree in law and political science from Kabul University and a master's degree in international law and comparative studies from George Washington University.

She was employed as a judge in both civil and criminal courts in Kabul and served in the Supreme Court Legal Aid Department and the Kabul Public Security Court. During the period of Taliban rule (1996-2001), Basel ran a private, home-based school for women where she designed programming and taught English. After the fall of the Taliban, she was active in state reconstruction, serving on the Kabul Public Security Court, acting as a representative for the establishment of the Independent Afghan Judicial Commission, and acting as an officer for the Emergency Loya Jirga Commission. She was integral to women's mobilization in reconstruction, working for the director of UNIFEM Afghanistan as a gender justice officer and serving on the Afghan Constitution Commission in a unit supporting women in the election process.

Basel also served for UNICEF Afghanistan as juvenile justice project officer. Since 2006, she has been working as national advisor to the German government’s assistant for Afghanistan GTZ, now the GIZ Rule of Law Project. After the suspension of the Afghan Women Judges Association by the Afghan Supreme Court, she founded the Afghanistan Progressive Law Organization and has served as its director since 2009. She is also a volunteer member of the Afghan Independent Bar Association Women's Committee, and a volunteer member of the advisory committee for the Afghan Women's Ministry.

As a Luce International Fellow, she will be in residence at ASU’s Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict at the Tempe campus in spring 2011.

For directions, visit For parking information, visit For more information call Mirna. Lattouf, lecture series organizer, at (602) 496-0638 or visit