Visiting researcher Shabnam Salehi speaks out about the situation in Afghanistan

Academic freedom
Human rights

By University of Ottawa

Human Rights Research and Education Centre, HRREC

Shabnam Salehi
Last March 21, 2023, Shabnam Salehi was invited to contribute to an event organized by Carleton University at Parliament titled “Jailed for Thinking: The Importance of Academic Freedom for Liberty and Democracy".

The session included a panel featuring a keynote speech from Ketty Nivyabandi, Amnesty International Canada Secretary General, in addition to Mehmet Tohti, Executive Director of the Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project, and human rights activist, Jewher Ilham. The panel aimed to showcase the link between academic freedom, democracy and human rights. Shabnam spoke about how academic institutions can contribute to the democratic process from the perspective of her experience in Afghanistan.

In early April, she will contribute to a webinar titled Afghanistan: Displacement and Disruption of Knowledge Networks which will focus on the state of higher education, displacement of scholars and knowledge networks and academic freedom in Afghanistan under the Taliban.

Shabnam Salehi started her academic journey in 2012 when she became an assistant professor at Kabul University. Until 2021, she has lectured courses on public policy with concentrations in human rights, gender equality, and women empowerment and served as senior researcher in several local research institutions and thinks tanks on issues related to women's rights and gender-based policy reforms. In addition, Shabnam served as Commissioner and Head of the Women’s rights Promotion and Protection Unit (WPU) in the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) from 2019 until the Taliban takeover in the summer of 2021. Starting in spring 2022, she has worked as a visiting researcher at Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) at the University of Ottawa.