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Trustees

Our Trustees are from a variety of backgrounds and professions all with the same passion to help educate women.

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CHAIR
Samantha Knights is a practising barrister at Matrix specialising in refugee, prison, public and commercial law. She has been involved in a number of cases relating to the conflict in Afghanistan – both in the area of refugee and humanitarian protection of civilians as well as those who worked for the British. She previously led an FCO funded rule of law project in Afghanistan between 2005-8 and has visited the country twice.

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VICE CHAIR
Ms Rachel Wareham has more than twenty years’ international management, research, policy and programme expertise in the field of women’s rights and gender equality working for INGOs, NGOs, the UN as well as for bilaterals. She has worked in Afghanistan since 2002, mainly in gender mainstreaming and violence against women issues. Currently she is a long-term consultant on DFID programmes with the Ministry of Interior, Afghanistan and CSOs in Zimbabwe. Ms Wareham has a Masters in Social Anthropology from London University, and a Bachelors in Politics and East Asian Studies from Newcastle University UK.

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VICE CHAIR
Ms Gurcharan Virdee is a senior social development specialist in the rule of law, gender equality, the elimination of violence against women and girls, peace building, human rights and child protection in transitional, conflict and fragile regions. Her country experience includes Afghanistan, Belarus, The Baltic States, Central Asia Regions (Krygyistan, Kazakhistan and Uzbekistan), South Asia, Jordan, Kenya, Somalia, Indonesia, The Russian Federation and Mongolia. She has worked in higher education and social work institutions, UN agencies, government, international organisations and NGOs. She is a member of the GenCap Inter-Agency Standing Committee roster, UNICEF Gender Equality Specialist roster, SIDA senior GBV specialist roster, and a member of the Deployable Civil Experts Initiative for the Department of International Development Stablisation Unit.

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SECRETARY
Kamini Paul is a Development professional with 20+ years international experience in the formulation and implementation of both Development and Environmental policy for Bi-lateral, Multi-lateral and Non-Government organisations. Kamini has worked as an EU Diplomat, UK Deployable Civilian Expert, International Adviser and Consultant for the European Commission, Department for International Development (UK Aid, DFID), World Bank, UNHCR, UNwomen, UNICEF, OCHA, UNAMA, and USAID, contributing to her extensive experience in the design, development, leading, and managing of programmes and projects, with demonstrated success in the implementation of International policy frameworks/programme strategies in alleviating poverty through the increase of household income by improving economic opportunities and access to services (health and education) for rural communities.

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TRUSTEE
Lara Griffiths is a social development and governance adviser who has worked for organisations including DFID, UNDP, EU, OSCE and Amnesty International. She first worked in Afghanistan in 2003, and has also worked in countries including Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Georgia and Bangladesh.

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FINANCE
Fahima Ahmadi is an ACCA part qualified management accountant. She has worked for various commercial industries, including advertising agency, digital/marketing, media publishing and telecom industries. She currently works for the UK’s largest discipline in the bio-sciences with over 6500 members. Fahima Ahmadi, also spares her time for humanitarian work and has done several community work for young Afghan people in the UK. She has done fundraising for orphans and people suffering from poverty in Afghanistan.

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FINANCE
Vicki Lindley is a finance professional. She joined the Live Nation Entertainment Internal Audit team in 2013 after completing a 3 year chartered accountancy graduate programme with Deloitte LLP. At Deloitte she worked within their Enterprise Risk Services team, providing outsources internal audit and risk based services to a wide range of clients. She has experience across a wide range of financial and business processes, as well as compliance with SOX, bribery & corruption, and data protection legislation.

Executive Team

Our Executive Team are the back-bone of our organisation and ensure that our projects are delivered to the most deserving.

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UK DIRECTOR
Rahela H. Sidiqi
is the founder and director of the Farkhunda Trust and is an Afghan women’s rights activist who was determined to improve the situation of women in Afghanistan following the tragic death of Farkhunda Malikzada.

Rahela has over 22 years of experience in managing programs such as emergency relief, conducting and organising management training, provision of policy papers, strategic plans and manuals for relevant project programs for government, the UN and the World Bank. She has founded two charities in Afghanistan and the UK and has provided leadership advice to the Chairman of the Civil Service Commission and other senior level leaders in Afghanistan. She is a reformist and anti-corruption activist at government and civil society levels. She has extensive experience in the area of organisation development participatory training, planning and management, project formulation, and monitoring and evaluation. She has strong experience in team building. She has an extensive background in the area of human rights, women’s rights advocacy, women and youth solidarity and coalition building. She works to build capacity in building partnerships in relation to relevant stakeholders. She works with the private sector, government, and local and international organisations.

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KABUL COORDINATOR
Khadija Yawari
is managing Farkhunda Trust activities at Gawarshad Institute of Higher Education. She is HR Manager and lecturer at GIHE. She has previously worked at AIHRC and as a gender officer for the Shuhada Organisation. She has undertaken courses in gender studies, peace building and human and women’s rights. She speaks Dari, Pashtu and English.

Friends of Farkhunda Trust, UK

Our Friends are unique in the tireless effort they put in to help wherever and whenever they can.

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Polly Davies has a BA from Oxford University in Turkish with Islamic Art and Archaeology. She is a former maritime solicitor and speaks Turkish and Farsi.

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Sophia Mahfooz is a British-Afghan entrepreneur who graduated from UCL. Upon graduation she won the undergraduate category for the ‘London Entrepreneurs Challenge’, which led her to working for a Venture Capital firm and starting her own business in Silicon Valley. Her current focus is to create a platform called Afghan Innovation, which seeks to document the stories of Afghans, and non-Afghans whose lives have been profoundly touched, by Afghanistan and the Afghan people.

The vision for Afghan Innovation is to unite the diaspora community and promote frugal entrepreneurship in order to create a strong community both in Afghanistan and abroad – and ultimately to empower Afghans to create their own solutions to tackle the socioeconomic problems in their country.

Friends of Farkhunda Trust, Afghanistan

Our Friends in Afghanistan ensure that the education provided is of the highest standard.

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LEADERSHIP MANAGEMENT COACH
Tania Aria
is an economics expert with experience in women’s issues, aid coordination, capacity building, program management, research, trade facilitation, and human resource management. She has worked for key government offices such as the President’s Administration Office and the Ministry of Finance as well with donor organizations such as the World Bank and USAID. She has also worked as an independent research consultant specifically focusing women’s employment. She is currently supervising a number of Gender Reform projects in the Administration Office covering anti-harassment, capacity development for women and the foundation of a Gender Steering Committee. She is a board member of the Economic Committee of Manshur/the Women’s Charter of Afghanistan through which she advises on and lobbies for economic empowerment policies for women and assesses government and other donor programs for women’s empowerment. She has represented Afghanistan at a number of national and international conferences on these subjects.

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ACADEMIC STUDIES COACH
Mariam Safi
is one of the few female researchers and experts from Afghanistan who has contributed widely to the field of post-conflict peace building, rule of law and human security, and countering violent extremism (CVE) offering a grassroots and gender perspective.

Her unique outlook and advocacy efforts have enriched the gender discourse on women’s participation in post-conflict peace processes. Her recent efforts, under the Organization for Policy Research and Development Studies (DROPS), to launch the first issue of the organization’s ‘Women and Public Policy Journal’ in Afghanistan was revered as the first journal of its kind to be published in the country offering a unique platform to increase and empower women’s voices in policy research and discourse. Furthermore, her collaboration with the Peace Education and Development Foundation in forming the first ever, Afghanistan-Pakistan Women’s Forum, was widely acclaimed for providing a platform for women in both countries to combine their efforts to raise awareness on women’s concerns and formulate policy recommendations aimed at carving a substantial role for women in the Peace Processes that ensue in both countries.

Mariam’s recent studies on issues such the Reconciliation and Reintegration of the Taliban, Women’s Role in the Peace Process, Women’s Role in CVE, Transitional Justice in Afghanistan, and Afghan perspectives on Human Security have been valued by organizations like the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, NATO, Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, Global Center on Cooperative Security, and the Consortium of South Asian Think-Tanks.

Furthermore, her ground breaking research under the ageist of Centre for Conflict and Peace Studies, on the ‘Formal and Informal Justice Relations in Afghanistan: a six province, 18 district, and 36 villages assessment’ and a ‘Four Provincial Assessment of the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program’ in Kandahar, Badghis, Baghlan and Pakita’ were considered the first of their kind and provided the academic and policy community with much needed baseline data that is largely missing in the context of Afghanistan. She is also a regular columnist for the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies’ (IPCS) Dateline Kabul and Insight on Conflict’s Afghanistan portal, for which she is also the local correspondent. She also participates in various working groups and conferences worldwide.

Mariam was recently honoured by the Diplomatic Courier as one of their Top Global Women in 2014 for her contribution to the nascent academic and research community in Afghanistan and for her policy oriented research that has been the focus of policymakers in Afghan government, civil society and the international community.

Mariam was the Deputy Director of the Centre for Conflict and Peace Studies (2010-2012) based in Kabul, and was the co-founder of the Afghanistan Justice Organization’s Strategic Studies Program (2013-2014) and is the founding director of Organization for Policy Research and Development Studies (2013-present). She has an MA in International Peace Studies from the United Nations Mandated University for Peace.