Afghan American Attorney Mariam Nawabi came to the United States as a child following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1978. After the fall of the Taleban, she returned home for the first time in 25 years as part of the team that helped draft the 'Equality Clause' in the new Afghan constitution. For producer George Dwyer, VOA's Jim Bertel reports Mariam Nawabi continues to work toward the improvement of Afghanistan from her home in the U.S.
U.S. - Afghan trade relations have one of their most effective advocates in Mariam Nawabi, a Washington based attorney who came to the United States as a child. "And the very first time I went back to Afghanistan after about 25 years of having left as a child was to go and meet with members of the Constitutional review commission, women's leaders, civil society and others to discuss the options that they had in this clause."
The clause she is referring to concerns the women's rights provision in Afghanistan's new constitution. Nawabi's legal training helped her build the consensus needed to see Afghanistan's 'Equality Clause' through to passage.
"And after that project I got involved with the commercial law project, that started in 2003 and is still going strong today as we speak."
Although it has experienced significant economic growth in recent years, Afghanistan remains one of the world's poorest countries. But Nawabi says Afghanistan's economic challenges also present opportunities. The key is to create an open environment to attract investors from around the world.
"And the basic goal is really to create a strong network of companies and individuals, institutions who are interested in Afghanistan and also bilateral relations between the U.S. and Afghanistan."
As special consultant to the Afghan American Chamber of Commerce, Nawabi helped create an on-line "Business Gateway" to facilitate communications between potential trading partners. But much of her most effective work is done face to face, as a commercial diplomat.
"So in the past few years I have been able to learn a lot about diplomacy and how to use those skills in order to effect legal reform and investment promotion. The audience may be different but the skills that you use are very similar. And in terms of diplomacy, it is definitely a field where you have to work with different institutions, with different individuals to help reach a common objective and to help bring together parties to help identify that goal and objective."
As a busy attorney, Nawabi has to juggle many projects. But her highest priority is helping those in the country of her birth.