Maryam Rayed is a Democracy activist and women’s political empowerment expert whose focus is local governance, community development, and bottom-up democracy promotion/ power distribution. Rayed is the founding director of Afghanistan Women’s Think Tank (AWTT), a grassroots research and advocacy center that provides a safe platform for women’s meaningful participation in political processes. The group strived to mobilize women as a cohesive group of voters and candidates in the 2018 parliament and subsequent presidential elections. In recognition of her activities, she was profiled as the Young Successful Figure of the year by the Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA) in 2019.
Currently, Rayed is doing her second master’s in Georgetown university’s Democracy and Governance Program as a Fulbright Scholar. She earned her BA in sociology and Philosophy and MA in Gender and Women Studies from Kabul University. During 2017-2018 she went to Europe through ERASMUS+ fellowship and studied part of her BA at Opole Heidelberg Universities, conducted research on the status of women in the South and Central Asia, where she received the Chancellor’s Award of competency and innovation. In 2018 through a competitive process, she became a fellow at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), Hiroshima office, where she conducted research on Afghanistan’s SDGs agenda.Prior to coming to the US, she served as Deputy Director of International Affairs and Human Rights at the State Ministry of Peace in Afghanistan where she worked extensively on promoting the Women, Peace and Security agenda, regional diplomacy, and inclusivity of the peace talks. Before that, she was gender consultant and gender focal point to the World Bank at the Ministry Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD). She developed and implemented two crucial documents on women’s safety in the workplace, namely the MRRD Strategy of Safe Working Space for Women and Gender Policy which was later replicated in 15 miniseries in Afghanistan.