Women and US foreign policy |

Hodei Sultan

Hodei Sultan


This is a transcript of an interview Matthew Alan Hill conducted with Hodei Sultan for the Women and US Foreign Policy Interview Project at The Institute for the Study of the Americas, University of London.

Interviewee: Hodei Sultan (HS)

Employment position referred to in interview: Afghanistan and Pakistan Programme Officer, United States Institute of Peace (USIP)

Interviewer: Matthew Alan Hill (MH)

Date: April 10, 2013

Location: Washington, D.C., USA

Website profile: http://www.usip.org/experts/hodei-sultan   


Personal and political-based questions

First memories in Afghanistan riding on the back of a motorbike and father being questioned on why she did not wear a headscarf (0:00:33); smuggled out to Pakistan and moving to Zimbabwe (0:02:25); moving from Harare to study at High School in Virginia (0:06:09); family thinking of returning to Zimbabwe (0:06:46); being at High School near the Pentagon when 9/11 happened (0:08:24); never identified with being Afghan (0:10:00); comparing Afghan culture with American culture (0:11:07); impact of war in Iraq impacting ability of US to succeed in Afghanistan (0:15:18); need to have engaged with the Taliban at the Bonn 2001 conference (0:17:30).

Pakistan’s involvement in Afghanistan (0:18:57); how civil society organisations, ‘beltway bandits’ are employing business not NGO operating models (0:21:15); rhetorically quizzes US government what its mission in Afghanistan in (0:23:55); demands from donors to report more and identify impacts (0:24:49); difficulties of evaluating projects due to insecurity (0:27:02); lack of Afghan engagement with gender based violence programmes (0:29:05); US government policy in Afghanistan has other priorities competing with gender equality (0:30:55); multiple women’s groups competing with each other for resources (0:33:08); importance of strong women in Afghan politics to inform on the needs of women (0:35:21).    

Difficulties of diaspora Afghan women being accepted by Afghan women in Afghanistan (0:38:41); difficulties of translating gender issues to an Afghan context (0:43:59); difficulties of building capacity to address gender imbalances (0:48:48); importance of Afghans taking ownership of gender-based issues (0:51:20); importance of locals running USIP projects (0:52:16); importance of USIP maintaining a low profile in-country (0:56:36); problems with imposing Western notions of democracy on Islamic countries (0:59:48); US government conceptions on what democracy should look like in Afghanistan and Iraq (1:04:06); Muslim women being ‘liberated’ from the Burqa (1:05:23); importance of asking local people what they want from externally developed projects (1:06:55).