Mahnaz Afkhami

Mahnaz Afkhami


Founder and President of Women's Learning Partnership, the Executive Director of the Foundation for Iranian Studies and the former Minister of Women's Affairs in Iran's pre-Revolution government

Author, Women in Exile and Faith and Freedom: Women's Human Rights in the Muslim World

Mahnaz Afkhami has been a leading advocate of women's rights for more than three decades. She is founder and President of the Women's Learning Partnership (WLP), an international organization that empowers women by developing and using culturally appropriate curricula in twenty languages to train women (currently in twenty countries) to become leaders by seeking and taking on decision making roles in politics, business, and civil society.

She helped create the concept and mobilize support for the establishment of the United Nation’s Asian and Pacific Centre for Women and Development (APCWD) and the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW).

Afkhami has published extensively on women’s issues. Her books Women in Exile, Faith and Freedom: Women's Human Rights in the Muslim World, Toward a Compassionate Society, and In the Eye of the Storm: Women in Post-revolutionary Iran are used in colleges and universities in the United States and abroad. The leadership manuals she has co-authored, Leading to Action: A Political Participation Handbook for Women, Leading to Choices: A Leadership Training Handbook for Women and Claiming Our Rights: A Manual for Women’s Human Rights Education in Muslim Societies, have been translated into several languages and are used in countries across the world.

Afkhami appears frequently on national radio and television as an expert on women's rights in the Middle East and North Africa, fundamentalism, and Iranian politics. She has been featured on BBC's "Hard Talk", and CNN's "Q&A." Most recently she has been interviewed by the Associated Press, the BBC, German Radio Network, National Public Radio, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, among others.

She serves on the boards and steering committees of several international organizations, including the Global Fund for Women, Oxfam/Novib International Advisory Round Table, Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, Women's Rights Division of Human Rights Watch, the World Movement for Democracy, and the International Museum of Women.

Prior to the Islamic revolution in Iran, Afkhami taught English literature at the National University of Iran, where she founded and directed the Association of University Women. She served as Secretary General of the Women's Organization of Iran (1970-1979) and Iran's Minister for Women's Affairs (1975-1978).

Afkhami tweets from @MahnazAfkhami