On the Issues Episode 113: Lamar Zala Gran

Today’s guest is Lamar Zala Gran, an Afghan activist and founder of the nonprofit organization Empowering Afghan Women, which provides online courses for high school girls in Afghanistan. She is currently a student at Berea College in Kentucky, continuing her educational journey from the American University of Afghanistan after escaping the country in 2022. In this episode, Alon and Lamar discuss her firsthand experience of the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021, the status of women and young Afghans currently under Taliban rule, and what role the international community can play in alleviating the terrible human rights situation in the country.

Full bio
Lamar Zala Gran is the founder and president of the nonprofit organization, Empowering Afghan Women, which she led for a year in Kabul, Afghanistan. The organization offers online courses, and formerly offered in-person classes for high school girls in Afghanistan for three years. Empowering Afghan Women has also developed internet campaigns to raise awareness of women’s rights issues, and conducted workshops on various topics. Over the past four years, she has actively advocated for women’s rights, sharing her voice and experiences on various global platforms, including BBC News, Los Angeles Times, Al Jazeera English, La Repubblica, and Tagesspiegel.

She has been featured on global media outlets, including an interview with Secretary Hillary Clinton on BBC World News, discussing the challenges faced by Afghan women. Gran was also a columnist for the German daily Tagesspiegel, where she contributed 20 weekly diaries from Kabul over the course of six months. Her activism extends to speaking with German Parliament members and EU Parliament members.

Previously, Gran participated as a delegate in the UN Least Developed Countries conference in Doha and spoke at the UN on the refugee forum in 2022, and at the 2023 UN International Youth Conference about the human rights and women’s rights situation in Afghanistan. She is a youth advocate for Silatech and Education Above All foundation in Doha, and has participated in an advocacy video group with the HÁWAR.help organization in Berlin regarding the situation of Afghan women. She also spoke with Ambassador of US for Afghanistan in Doha and US special envoy for Afghanistan in Doha about the situation of Afghan women, and on an Australian embassy panel discussion about Afghan women, together with international donor and its ambassador as well.

Despite facing challenges and mental health struggles, she recently moved to the US from Doha after escaping Afghanistan in 2022. She is currently a student at Berea College in Kentucky, following her educational journey from the American University of Afghanistan in Doha, a summer school program at the American University of Central Asia, and Bard College in New York. She is determined to continue her activism, using her voice to bring about positive changes in her country.