World Refugee Day Panel Event with Iraq and Afghanistan Country Directors

Marking World Refugee Day 2024

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World Refugee Day Panel Event

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Celebrating the lives of courageous women displaced by conflict

Thursday, 20th June 2024

In 2024, 63 million people worldwide are predicted to be displaced from their homes by violence and conflict (source: UNHCR). Not only is conflict the main driver behind most of the world's food crises, but once displaced, families face additional barriers to employment, healthcare, access to land and food security, leaving them trapped in a cycle of hunger and poverty. Women and girls face a number of additional risks in times of displacement, becoming even more vulnerable to gender-based violence and related abuses such as human trafficking. 

On World Refugee Day 2024, we heard from Aram Shakerm and Payvand Seyedali, Country Directors of Women for Women International Iraq and Afghanistan, about the compounding impacts of conflict and displacement and celebrated the courageous women we serve who are determined to carve a future for themselves and their families out of the turmoil of their environment. Moderated by our CEO Laurie Adams, the panel discussed the challenges and achievements of displaced women in and from Iraq and Afghanistan, and how our work continues to provide a pathway for women in these contexts to rebuild their lives. 

Meet the speakers

Payvand Seyedali

Payvand Seyedali

Country Director, Women for Women International - Afghanistan

Payvand has spent her career in the International Development sector, primarily focusing on the rights of women and girls. She specialises in executive leadership, organisational development, gender, education, negotiation and policy work in fragile and conflict-affected states, specifically Afghanistan, where she has lived for over a decade.

Aram Shakerm

Aram Shakerm

Country Director, Women for Women International - Iraq

Aram has almost 30 years of experience in the humanitarian and development sectors in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East. His roles have seen him delivering life-saving responses to crises and behind complex women-centred programme design and implementation. Aram also acted as Country Director for our Afghanistan office, leading the team through the Taliban's takeover in August 2021. 

Laurie Adams

Laurie Adams

Chief Executive Officer, Women for Women International

With more than 25 years of experience working in international development and human rights, Laurie is an innovative leader, strategist and gender rights advocate. Prior to joining Women for Women International, she served as the Director of Women’s Rights for Oxfam in the UK leading communications, fundraising, programme development and advocacy. 



Women for Women International staff are committed to prioritising the safety of event guests and staff. Harassment and inappropriate behaviour of event guests, panellists, staff or volunteers at our events will not be tolerated and anyone violating this policy at our events may be asked to leave without entitlement to any refund of ticket price. Please click here to read our full safer spaces policy.

Learn more about our work

As the global refugee crisis has reaches a record high, it is crucial now more than ever to understand the obstacles facing refugees. This World Refugee Week, we have put together a list of seven must-see movies that provide an insight into the refugee experience and their powerful stories of survival.


Meet six incredible refugee women - from Syrian activist Waad al-Kateab to actress and singer Marlene Dietrich - who have used their power to make a difference.


The amount of forcibly displaced people has reached a staggering number—over 114 million according to UNHCR—and the number only continues to increase. This World Refugee Day, learn about the state of refugees today.