Meet Our Board Member – Latifa Ahmady

Latifa Ahmadi was born in Afghanistan and completed her primary and secondary education in Pakistan. She got her Bachelor Degree from Kabul Educational University- faculty of English Literature and Master Degree in International Relations from Avicenna University- Kabul -Afghanistan. She dedicated her life to empower women to break the chains of oppressions, discrimination and violence against women. As a representative of Afghan women, she participated in different European and Asian International women gathering for revealing real condition of Afghan women.

  • Women activist since she was 14 years old
  • Former Executive Director of OPAWC (Organization for Promoting Afghan Women Capabilities)
  • Present Director of EBFO (Enter to Bright Future Organization)

She worked in different areas, but she spent most of her life for OPAWC [Organization for Promoting Afghan Women’s Capabilities]. She was responsible for overall management of this organization, coordinating  provincial activities. She worked hard to teach the women to defend their rights and to participate in the women movements for their rights. Involved in reporting to donors and government agencies, involved in planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of different projects, Involved in developing trainings on different issues.  She volunteered much of her time for extending OPAWC ‘s activities in different fields in different provinces in order to pave the way for more women and girls to walk through and to learn.  She volunteered her life and time for helping women and children in different fields.

Formally worked as administrator and translator in OPAWC, worked as Instructor in Private Institutes and Courses, worked as translator and provincial coordinator in Ministry of Education of Afghanistan, worked as freelancer translator in BBC monitoring Afghanistan, worked as project assistant in COSPE Onlus an Italian Ngo and from October 2009 to May2017 worked as Executive Director of OPAWC. She resigned from OPAWC on May 2017 in order to give the chance to other young women to take the leadership.

She established a new NGO named (Enter to Bright Future Organization) in Dec 2018. The Objectives and Goals of this organization was to help vulnerable women and children particularly youth generation. She had two small project but funding was a challenge due to lockdown and Covid-19.

In December 2020 she and her family were not safe in Afghanistan and had to leave under a very difficult circumstances to Uzbekistan.  Latifa and her husband and four children are not residing in Sweden.    


Meet Our New Board Member-Elham Hoominfar, Ph.D.

Elham Hoominfar is an assistant professor in the Global Health Studies Program at Northwestern University. Hoominfar is a sociologist whose research expertise focuses on intersections of environment and society and understanding of social inequalities and social movements with an interdisciplinary approach. She received her first master’s degree in the sociology of development at the University of Tehran, where she also got her bachelor’s degree in sociology. Before she left Iran, she maintained an active research agenda and she was involved in various research and teaching projects in different institutes. She received her second master’s in Cross-Cultural and International Education program at Bowling Green State University, Ohio, and her PhD in sociology from Utah State University. Her PhD project focused on marketization of water and environmental movements in Iran and the US.

Hoominfar has extensive teaching experience in the United States and Iran. She employs a student-centered learning method and a critical view for teaching. She is currently researching environmental justice, water governance, commodification of nature and social resistances with an emphasis on political economy in the Global South and North. She has focused on marginalized groups, and examined issues such as development, natural disasters and social inequality in an array of research publications in both Persian and English.

Global Health Courses Taught

  • Environmental Justice
  • Hazards, Disasters, and Society

Recent Publications

Hoominfar, E & Zangeneh, N. 2021. “The Brick Wall to Break: Women and the Labor Market under the Hegemony of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI)”. International Feminist Journal of Politics, (23) 2, 263-286, DOI:10.1080/14616742.2021.1898286

Hoominfar, E & Radel, C. 2020. “Contested Dam Development in Iran: A Case Study of the Exercise of State Power over Local People”. Sustainability, 12, (13) 5476.

Hoominfar, E. 2020. “Social Movements in Iran: How well does the dominant narrative work?” Critical Sociology, 1-17.

Hoominfar, E. 2019. Socialization of Women. In: Leal Filho W., Azeiteiro U., Azul, A.M., Brandli, L., Özuyar, P., Wall, T. (eds) Gender Equality. Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Springer, Cham

Alaedini, p & Javaheripour, M. and Hoominfar, E. 2013. “Enhancing Community Resilience to Floods in Iran: The Case of Post-Disaster Neka”. International Journal of Social Sciences, (1) 4, 267-272.

Hoominfar, E and Moidfar, S. 2012. Strategies to Increase Rural Participation in Village Affairs. Ghom, Iran; Motahari. (2nd Edition)

Hoominfar, E, Ahmadzadeh, S and Alaedini, P. 2011. “A Social Assessment of Bam in the Aftermath of the 2003 Earthquake,” in Pooya Alaedini, ed., Post-Earthquake Reconstruction and Vulnerability Reduction in Iran: Social and Management Aspects, Tehran: Natural Disasters Research Institute & Jameeshenasan.


Meet Our New Board Member – Mary Ann Buggs

Mary Ann Buggs is an enrolled member of the Caddo Nation and also of Cheyenne-Arapaho descent.

Mary Ann attended Seattle University and San Jose State University majoring in Business Administration/Marketing with a minor in Journalism. Her professional career centered on Marketing Communications, Public Relations and Finance.

In 2011, Ms. Buggs and husband Benjamin began a non-profit food pantry called Faith Food Fridays in their home city of Vallejo that today serves more than 400 families weekly with free groceries and other necessities and services, including free flu and COVID vaccinations.

Mary Ann is the current chair of the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP), a United Way program as well as a board member of the Women’s Intercultural Network. She is currently a fellow for the Vital Village Networks working to create a community powered food justice system. Most recently, she served as co-chair on the Racial Equity and Hunger National Learning Network, an organization working to end hunger in the US by disrupting racism. Previously she served as board member for the Indian Health Center of Silicon Valley as well as the 7 Generations Intertribal Council.

Mary Ann and Benjamin have 5 children and 14 grandchildren. She enjoys time with family, crafting, gardening, and traveling, especially to attend Native American Pow Wows.

Cities for CEDAW: From Resolution to Ordinance

Gail James, Chair of Women’s Intercultural Network CEDAW Committee

The Cities for CEDAW Campaign is pleased that there are 10+ Ordinances in cities across the country.  There are 36+ cities with Resolutions.  This indicates that ordinance are less “easy” to enact in our cities.  Let’s review the reasons and offer some perspective:

  1. Resolution as Statement of Support; it is a Philosophical Commitment to an Idea or Concept. It is not a legal document or mechanism.
  2. Many cities begin here. Important 1st step to set foundation; not legally binding, yet sends message, and communicates relevance of CEDAW and human rights for women and girls.
  3. Path to Resolution works best when coalition-building has developed ground-up interest and support. Presentations, discussions, workshops on elements of C4C and request for city action will develop necessary relationships among relevant organizations, public officials and other allies.
  4. Once Resolution is crafted and approved, public messaging is advisable to signal to the community that public officials support human rights and action to address discrimination against women and girls. Press release, press conference, organizational newsletters and/or social media dissemination promotes the message of energy and commitment. Stage is set for next phase!
  5. Most difficult path: getting to an Ordinance. One city official has been quoted: “we’ve done enough for women.”  BUT many other municipalities have found it works well to solidify relationships with council members, department heads and agency allies, leading to on-going discussions about the Ordinance sought.  
  6. Don’t forget: while C4C website resources provide toolkits, templates and examples of cities’ experiences, there is NO ONE WAY to develop an ordinance. It must fit the city, the issues, and the officials who will support and vote for it.
  7. Sometimes, a city might find immediate support and approval. Others experience delays, questions and challenges that take time, even years.
  8. In my experience, in Kansas City, we have endured through 3 City Councils and 2 Mayors. Since a Resolution in 2015, our Women’s Equality Coalition has been actively pursuing an Ordinance.  We are now close: we expect an Ordinance in 2021.

Here is a primer for such a situation:  

  • Persist! Be assertive!  Fearless, if you can!  If you can’t, recruit colleagues who can.  It will make the difference.
  • Make calls to Mayor’s office, Chief of Staff, City Manager; ask for meeting. Bring 1 or several allies, especially those with clout: Foundation CEO, employment administrator; university personnel, board members of UNA or officers of your coalition organizations; include constituents.  Continue to stay in contact with city officials, including their assistants; don’t let them forget your name or your purpose.
  • Share materials; prepare a brief powerpoint or download documents from C4C website: what it is, why it is needed, what you are asking for. Resources available: fact sheets, city press releases, official videos of mayors in support.
  • Do homework and research; for example, you can find out how much city has had to pay out for discrimination cases.  This is a powerful datum to remind city officials that discrimination costs and anti-discrimination measures are worth it.
  • Then, set up next round of meetings with City Council members, through their staff. Start with your own council member.  Be brief, clear and focused.   Message: There is discrimination that all women and girls encounter; here is a policy tool to address and rectify.   Give examples. Call attention to other like-sized cities who have moved down this path.
  • We have asked them to green light our request.  BUT: When red light is flashing, go lateral.   This may not be a direct path. Don’t count on any one office or official to move.   Set meetings with as many officials as you can. Recruit organizational partners to join; train them via workshops to know more about C4C and how to address issues.  Keep working over the months; it is often a long journey.
  • Don’t forget allies: Human Rights Commission, Human Resources Dept., racial and ethnic organizations, economic development agencies, labor and Women-owned business networks, university departments, researchers, LGBTQ+ groups, Gender-based Violence networks. These affinity groups must be included in outcomes, so including them early on will bear fruit and create the solidarity that you will require.
  • Take a look at prior Ordinances. There are relevant policies, charters, or codes on the books that can be used as a basis for amendment to current needs.  This might allow Council members to support proposal more easily.
  • Meanwhile, celebrate local women of achievement, esp. in city departments, boards, commissions and local agencies.  This reminds everyone that we are watching. 
  • If barriers and time are in the way, go lateral even further.   Identify some particular element of discrimination and work on that:  e.g. Salary History, Evictions, Assault and Violence data.  Maybe Council will approve minimum wage increase, or address housing/homeless issue.  Publicize these as successes of anti-discrimination and support for women and girls.
  • Meanwhile, be working with HR, asking about employment data, leading you to discuss the Gender Analysis that will be included in the Ordinance language.
  • Review with coalition members how you want the follow-through to be: A Commission of Council-appointed members, or a Task Force of coalition appointed members?  How will the language read for evaluation and enforcement of the work?  How will the budget be allocated?   Is Legal on board?  What entity will oversee the data and research essential to make an Ordinance effective and evolving?  How will implementation work and be enforced?
  • In conservative localities, pay attention to the red flags of words and concepts: the UN, international treaties, human rights, abortion, women’s health, sexual and racial discrimination language, CEDAW itself.  Be strong, but be clear on signals.  Officials may not want to hear about “blue” San Francisco or New York examples, but might relate to the work in Cincinnati, Louisville or Bozeman.   
  • Most importantly: how will you and your coalition members be involved in the enforcement mechanism?   This is crucial, since we do not want empty policy voids.  We want effective, meaningful public policy, and while it aspires to the ideal, it must adhere to the legal and political realities of your city.   
  • Ordinance approval: celebrate, publicize, tell public about short and long-term goals; keep coalition alive by action plans and outcomes assessment information in social media, press releases, etc.
  • Remember Light and Heat; Teeth and Claws: You are bringing light to shadowy areas of discrimination, as well as heat to stir up Council action.  As Cities for CEDAW mentor, Krishanti Dharmaraj, points out: Ordinances must have teeth to be effective and claws to make a difference against barriers. It has to be Real and Vital to Support the Lives and Well-Being of Women and Girls.

Onward!  Keep Going!  You are on the Right Side of History!

The content of this post was presented to C4C Quarterly Meeting, September 25, 2021


Interview with Charlie Toledo, A Leader Who Weaves the Energy of the Stars

Elahe Amani

You grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and lived in Napa Valley in 1972.  You are a self-made leader, a healer, weaving the energy of the stars, the cosmos, into the earthly plane for us all to reach our highest potential.   Where did you first get involved in Human rights advocacy?

 My involvement started in 1976, when the UN Human Rights convening in Nigeria came to my attention due to political involvements around Legality and accessibility of women’s healthcare around Midwifery and home births.   At the time I considered being a delegate to the UN, however, due to the young age of my children I did not attend but began to intently follow the International Human Rights movement for women & children.

What motivated you? The lack of accessibility to reproductive healthcare choices for women. The dawning realization about how women’s choices in the job market, education and healthcare were so inferior and limited compared to men’s choices or options.

 As a Native American woman what has been your experience?

Native American women and people are second or third- class citizens. The life expectancy is about 48 years of age. The incidence of police violence and sexual predation is the highest of any other minority groups in United States. Missing and murdered Indigenous women go unreported and the perpetrators go unprosecuted about 98% of the time. This is especially true on reservations in remote rural parts of the United States. This is just now beginning to change. The recent appointment of Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland is a long overdue turning point, as Secretary Haaland is making steps to address issues of Missing & Murdered women and the unresolved issues of Indian Boarding Schools in the United States. For the first time in U.S. History, Secretary Haaland has ordered the use of radar sonar equipment for body searching at the 300+ Indian Boarding School sites in United States. Similarly, Secretary Haaland has ordered historical records searches for identities, tribes and families where children were taken from by the United States Government. Pretty grim realities.


Discrimination and harassment are widely reported by Native Americans, across multiple domains of their lives and by Native American communities as a whole.  You have been referred to as someone living “on the edge of mainstream”. As a human rights advocate for women and girls, as a healer and peacemaker, what has been your experience with the mainstream women’s movement and modern forms of discrimination and harassment against Native Americans?

Ummm, I think the biggest barrier is the lack of accurate historical information about what occurred in the Native American genocides in the United States. The gross lack of correct information makes it very difficult to have a coherent or relevant discussion. The still active repression of these historical documents is a major impediment to the dissemination of the historical truths of Native American history. The myths and lies created by US Government to pretend this was a “discovered Land!” Ignoring the sixty thousand years history of indigenous people who lived here in civilized, permanent villages and communities with rich complex lifestyles, sustainable land management and art etc. etc. Too long to really detail. 

I know you are a 40-year resident and community organizer in Napa County California, a healer, dedicated to preserving Native American culture and building the cohesiveness of indigenous groups in the Napa area. You were and are the force behind “Suskol House” a 20 acres site in Northeastern part of Napa County built to preserve, disseminate and protect the Native American traditions, songs, dances, basketry and ceremonies of indigenous peoples of the Americas (Abyala).  Can you share your journey? Oh, that is a very long story. The short version is the need to create a safe place for Indigenous peoples of the Americas to have ceremony and preserve Native American culture in relevant contemporary land base. Based on collective dreams, visions and need.

In early 1970s you became an organic farmer long before it was popular. It seems farming and gardening comes naturally to you and you are connected to nature in so many ways.  You are also called “water expert” and helped authoring the Watershed Development plan for Napa County in its seminal years, 1992-1995, and served on the State Low Income Oversight Board, a committee of the California Public Utilities Commission.  Drawing on your experience, how do you think we can we hold the land and Earth as sacred once again?   Another long story very complex. But to recover and implement the indigenous land practices inclusive of spiritual components is essential. One Earth. One Air. One Water. One Fire. The base principle that “All life is connected.” Many projects after decades of organizing and public education at local, regional, State and international levels by indigenous peoples of the world since the euro-invasions and genocides that occurred here in US. Still occurring right now around the world are essential is rectifying this crisis. The crisis of Climate changes has brought a species extinction that might be the global WaKE up Point?

Ms. Charlie Toledo, you believe in creating positive changes for all through grassroots movements, one step at a time.   How did you connect with Women’s Intercultural Network? What was your motivation? Marilyn Fowler’s charismatic leadership. Statewide convenings that occurred after the fifth Women’s conference in Beijing. Marilyn Fowler, CEO of WIN, really was the Spark point for so much of what was accomplished in Beijing 1995!

She connected with Apple computer to set -up a communication center on site in China! It was free and accessible to all participants. This was a primary tool for self-documentation for that herstorical conference. WIN orchestrated all of that! this was very visionary, as online emails were very new and emerging technology at the time.  Again, under the incredible dynamic leadership of Marilyn Fowler, WIN brought women together to process the experience and create a plan of action after the international conference in Beijing and Huaren, China 1995. After the conference, Marilyn Fowler took visionary steps to develop a Plan of Action to implement the Human Rights platform developed in Beijing by convening with California state government Officials, Universities and organizations that resulted in collaborations with stake holders that resulted in the development of the Plan of Action.  

This later evolved into a strategy for implementation of the Plan of Action for Women’s and Children’s rights at city levels. The goal to bring Human Rights for women and children to the communities where women live, work and study, not just at hypothetical international treaty levels. Finally, today cities exist where WIN women leaders “Bring the Global Local!” a focus strategy endorsed in 2018 by the United Nations. This is now being utilized as a working model globally.

 Twenty years ago, you went to Afghanistan as part of the grass-roots delegation of Women’s Intercultural Network.  With the recent political regressive changes in Afghanistan and Taliban talking control of the country again, can you share any reflection you may have?

 The world is at the end phase of patriarchy. The misogynist, industrialized, unsustainable institutions are flailing about. This systems in collapse at the end of sustainability.  The world has changed and will not change back. It is in dynamic transitions and will continue to evolve to sustainable compassionate and equitable societies.

What can advocates of gender equality, democracy and human rights can learn for future?  Stay focused on what is becoming. Stay compassionate in the face of violence. Re-learn how to share resources, time. Slow down consume less share more. Focus on youth the future seven generations.