Fahima Vorgetts grew up in Afghanistan and from an early age, she was involved with the early women’s rights movement in that country. A chemist by training, she chose to become involved with educational programs for women. Although she was not formally affiliated with any women’s organizations for many years following her departure from Afghanistan, she remained a fervent and close supporter of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), as well as Humanitarian Aid to Women and Children of Afghanistan (HAWCA). She has arranged for the shipment of medical and other supplies to Afghanistan and has been actively involved in consciousness-raising and fundraising for many years. She has addressed the United Nations, has traveled widely to speak at conferences at universities and religious organizations, and has appeared on many national and international television and radio stations, including BBC and NPR. She has been featured in such publications as the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post. She is currently on the board of Women for Afghan Women (WAW) and director of the Afghan Women’s Fund. She also is an honorary member of Afghanistan Organization for Human Rights and Environmental Protection.

In February 2002, she traveled to refugee camps in Pakistan and to Afghanistan to work on women's rights and education. While there, she co-founded the Humanitarian Organization for Orphans and Widows of Afghanistan (HOOWA) in Kabul.

She has served as a consultant for two books dealing with Afghan women – WOMEN FOR AFGHAN WOMEN: SHATTERING MYTHS AND RECLAIMING THE FUTURE, edited by Sunita Mehta and BEHIND THE BURQA, by Batya Swift Yasgur, which is the memoir of two Afghan sisters. 

Fahima is the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award “for Extraordinary Contribution to Peace and Justice” awarded by the Ann Arundel Peace Action Organization in 2002. In December 2003 she was awarded the “Human Rights Community Award” by the UN Association of the National Capital Area. In September 2004 she received the “Most outstanding volunteer” award from Ann Arundel County. In April 2005, she received the Salem Award for Human Rights and Social Justice. In 2007 she received the Soroptimist award.

Visit the Women for Afghan Women website to learn more about Fahima Vorgetts' recent work in Afghanistan.


Professor Fionnuala D. Ni Aoláin

Dorsey & Whitney Chair in Law, University of Minnesota Law School


Professor Ní Aoláin is concurrently the Dorsey and Whitney Chair in Law at the University of Minnesota Law School and a Professor of Law at the University of Ulster’s  Transitional Justice Institute in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  She is co-founder and Associate Director of the Institute.  Professor Ní Aoláin received her LL.B. and Ph.D. in law at the Queen’s University Law Faculty in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She also holds an LL.M. degree from Columbia Law School. Professor Ní Aoláin was a Visiting Professor at the University of Minnesota Law School in 2003-04. She has previously been Visiting Scholar at Harvard Law School (1993-94); Associate-in-Law at Columbia Law School (1994-96); Visiting Professor at the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University (1996-2000); Associate Professor of Law at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel (1997-99) and Visiting Fellow at Princeton University (2001-02).


Professor Ní Aoláin is the recipient of numerous academic awards and honors including a Fulbright scholarship, the Alon Prize, the Robert Schumann Scholarship, a European Commission award, and the Lawlor fellowship. Her teaching and research interests are in the fields of international law, human rights law, national security law and feminist legal theory. She has published extensively in the fields of emergency powers, conflict regulation, transitional justice and sex based violence in times of war. Her most recent book Law in Times of Crisis (Cambridge University Press 2006) was awarded the American Society of International Law’s preeminent prize in 2007 - the Certificate of Merit for creative scholarship.


She was a representative of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at domestic war crimes trials in Bosnia (1996-97). In 2003, she was appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations as Special Expert on promoting gender equality in times of conflict and peace-making. She has been nominated twice by the Irish government to the European Court of Human Rights in 2004 and 2007, the first woman and the first academic lawyer to be thus nominated.  She was appointed by the Irish Minister of Justice to the Irish Human Rights Commission in 2000, and served until 2005.  She remains an elected member of the Executive Committee for the Belfast based Committee on the Administration of Justice, and is also a member of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties.