Dr Orzala Nemat

Senior Associate Fellow


Dr Orzala Nemat, an internationally known Afghan activist and scholar, is an expert in political ethnography, holding a Ph.D. in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and MSc in Development Planning from the University College London (UCL). Dr Nemat emerged as a young leader from her time being a war refugee for over a decade in Pakistan and gained national and international recognition for her principled work on humanitarian assistance, women’s rights and human rights matters. She subsequently undertook research and studies on issues around politics, governance and power relations in war-affected societies.

Dr Nemat chose to rise above the challenges of living as a refugee, by putting the focus on developing her career, at the same time assisting and helping the most marginalised members of society through educational programmes, building schools, protection of female victims of violence and peacebuilding. She is currently Director of Afghanistan’s top research think tank, the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) and has contributed significantly to its internal management, as well as building its quality of work up to global research standards.

During her professional career of over twenty years, Dr Nemat has led and worked with various grassroots, national and international organisations. She served on various development organisations’ governance boards and attended numerous international and national conferences representing voices from Afghanistan and Afghan women. She was selected as a Young Global Leader at the World Forum in 2009, Yale Greenberg World Fellows in 2008 and is a recipient of the Isabel Ferror Award for Women’s Education and the Amnesty International Award for Humanitarian Aid to Children and Women.

Dr Nemat has published various research papers and presented research at policy institutions across Europe, US and Australia. Upon completion of her doctoral studies and after teaching international development courses at SOAS, Dr Nemat returned to Kabul where she worked briefly as the President’s Advisor on Sub-National Governance, prior to joining the AREU as its first Afghan female director.

As a Senior Associate Fellow of RUSI, Dr Nemat brings valuable insights from the ground on current global challenges such as security, migration and violence. 

External publications

  • Nemat, O. A. [as lead author on Afghanistan] (2018), “Migration in the Hindukosh region: Governance, Drivers and Consequences” Chapter 15th in HIMAP Comprehensive Assessment of the Hindokosh region, to be published during the year.


    Nemat, O. (2017). “Afghan Women: The Politics of Empowerment in the post-2001 Era”. In Lindsey, N. and Najafizadeh. M. (Eds.) “Women of Asia: Globalization, Development, and Social Change, to be published by Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group).


    Nemat, O.A. (2016). “Women’s Empowerment: Challenging the Notion of Victimization”. In Smith, Scott, and Colin Cookman. (Eds.)"State Strengthening in Afghanistan".


    Nemat, O. A. (2014). “Making Their Own Path to Peace”. http://buildingpeaceforum.com/by-author/orzala-ashraf-nemat/


    Nemat, O. A. (2012). “Hamida's Story: Female Agents of Change” in, Introduction to Afghanistan 1979-2009: In the Grip of Conflict, Middle East Institute; Washington DC.


    Chaudhary, T. W., Nemat, O. A., & Suhrke, A. (2011). “Promoting Women’s Rights in Afghanistan: The Ambiguous Footprint of the West”, In A Liberal Peace? The Problems and Practices of Peace Building, (eds.) Campbell, S., Chandler, D., & Sabaratnam, M. Zed Books, London & New York, Pgs 106-120.

  • Bennet, J. and Nemat, O (2015) “Evaluation of EU Support to Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Partner Countries”, Country Note for Afghanistan, commissioned by EC.


    Strand A., Nemat O. A., Sarwari, A (2012). Examining the Past to Prepare for the Future: Review of Norwegian Church Aid’s Integrated Rural Development Program 2010-2012 [Internal Report] Norwegian Church Aid, Oslo.


    Nemat, O.A. Samadi, A. (2012). Forgotten Heroes: Afghan Women Leaders Killed in Impunity, Ignored in Justice, Afghanistan Rights Monitor, Kabul.


    Hancock, L. & Nemat, O.A. (2011). A Place at the Table: Safeguarding Women’s Rights in Afghanistan, report, Oxfam International, Kabul.


    Nemat, O. A. (2011). Afghan Women at the Crossroads: Agents of Peace—or Its Victims? Report, Century Foundation, New York.


    Bauck, P. Chaudhary,T.W.  Nemat O.A. (2010). Review of Norwegian Prison Project & Appraisal of Afghanistan’s needs on the Rule of Law and Justice Sector, report Chr. Michelson Institute (CMI), Bergen.


    Nemat, O.A. (2007). Comparative Analysis of Family Law in the context of Islam in four countries: Egypt, Malaysia, Pakistan and Bangladesh with Afghanistan, Henrich Boel Foundation, Kabul.

  • Nemat, O. & Motwani, N. (2019) ‘The new Afghanistan’s potential for regional economic cooperation & connectivity’ to be published on the Heritage Foundation’s Quad-Plus page and AREU website.


    Jackson A. & Nemat, O (2018). Politics over evidence: questioning the link between service delivery and legitimacy in Afghanistan. Policy briefing for AREU.


    Nemat, O.A. & Werner, K. (2016). The Role of Civil Society in promoting Good Governance in Afghanistan, an issue paper to be peer-reviewed and published by AREU.


    Nemat, O.A. (2015). Women and the Elections: Facilitating and Hindering Factors in the upcoming parliamentary elections, a Policy Briefing, Afghanistan Research Evaluation Unit (AREU), Kabul.


    Nemat, Orzala. (2015). Empowering Women & Girls: Challenging the notion of victimization. Paper presented in a Conference on State-Strengthening in Afghanistan 2001-2014: Learning from the Past to Inform the Future Co-hosted by Chatham House, Stanford University, and the United States Institute of Peace, March.

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