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Build a future that upholds women’s rights and dignity

When the lives and careers of women judges were threatened under Taliban rule, the International Association of Women Judges called upon the legal community to help bring them to safety. In response, Allard School of Law launched The Afghan Women Judges Program to provide refuge and a safe platform for them to continue their legal and academic work. Now, it’s time to take it further.

When Judge Bibi Wahida Rahimi was forced to flee her country, she feared her law career, and her life as she knew it, had ended. Through the Afghan Women Judges Program, the first of its kind in Canada, she found a new path forward. She became a Research Associate for a two-year term at Allard School of Law presenting on the Afghan judicial system, the experiences of women judges before and after 2021, and on issues related to women and the law in Afghanistan. Under the program, two other judges were given two-year visiting scholar appointments. Judges Freshta Masomi and Zamila Sangar began a comparative analysis of domestic violence laws in Canada and Afghanistan. They have also recorded how they and others have sought to address domestic violence through law and policy in Afghanistan. In 2024, Judge Bibi Wahida Rahimi began an LLM in Human Rights at the University of Notre Dame and Judges Freshta Masomi and Zamila Sangar began appointments as Research Associates at the Allard School of Law.

Thanks to the generous and timely support of donors, Allard School of Law was able to provide a lifeline for these women to build new lives in Canada and find a platform to continue their fight for women’s rights. A significant part of the program, supported by donor funds, includes tuition-free English language classes by UBC’s English Language Institute (ELI). These classes support judges until they reach the English proficiency needed for career advancement. The program also features lunchtime meet-ups between judges and others, initially designed for learning Canadian legal basics. These meetings now focus on mutual learning and connection, where judges learn about Canadian law while sharing their Afghan judicial experiences and expanding their network. Donor funds have also been used to cover transportation expenses, textbooks, health insurance and more. In return, Allard School of Law students, faculty and the legal community have greatly benefited from the three judges’ first-hand experiences and their insights into contemporary Afghan law, society and the status of women both before and after the Taliban’s return to power.

With your support, we can help the judges participating in the program to continue in their legal careers. These funds will support costs associated with furthering their legal education as well as towards degree accreditation to practice law in Canada. With your generosity, we can be strong advocates for women’s rights and enhance our knowledge of women and the judiciary.

“I want to contribute my knowledge and experience for my generation, and for every girl who dreams independently for herself … For me, research is a way of thinking independently and telling untold stories,” Judge Bibi Wahida Rahimi


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