Afghan women’s rights activist, evacuee Mashal joins UTA
When Roshan Mashal evacuated from Afghanistan during the fall of Kabul in 2021, she knew she would never return.
As the Afghan government and military fell to the Taliban, Mashal, a leader in the Afghan Women’s Network, was able to evacuate to the United States with her husband and all five of their children.
“I cannot forget that day,” she said. “I was scared for my children, for my colleagues, for our families,” Mashal said. “At first, I told my friends that I felt I had to stay to continue the struggle. And my friends told me, ‘But you have to be alive to continue the struggle.’”
For over a decade, Mashal has advocated for women’s and gender issues, access to education and participation in elections in Afghanistan. Now, she will serve for one year as a fellow with The University of Texas at Arlington’s Women's and Gender Studies program in the College of Liberal Arts. Mashal—who says her goals have always included sharing experiences and learning from others—will focus on journalism, women’s rights issues and advocacy in her role at UTA.
The fellowship is in part thanks to a collaboration with The Texas International Education Consortium (TIEC). The TIEC Fellowship for Afghan Evacuees was created during the mass evacuations from Afghanistan in 2021. TIEC has pledged to commit up to $500,000 for scholarships and fellowships for high-risk students and professionals hosted by TIEC member universities.
“The Texas International Education Consortium is deeply honored to be partnering with UT Arlington to place Roshan Mashal as a TIEC Fellow in the College of Liberal Arts,” said Robin Lerner, President and CEO of TIEC. “Mashal has spent her career advocating on behalf of women in Afghanistan. Her very special lived experience and deep expertise in communications and gender studies will bring a new level of global learning to students and faculty at UTA. We could not ask for a more committed host for her fellowship than UTA.”
Students will be able to learn from Mashal’s experiences living in Afghanistan and Pakistan, her participation in the worldwide women’s rights movement and her experiences from dozens of advocacy and training opportunities around the globe.
“This represents UTA’s commitment to providing our students with access to world-class experts who can bring their unique experiences to bear on the educational process, connecting what we do in the classroom with some of the most impactful events in our world,” said Dan Cavanagh, interim dean for UTA’s College of Liberal Arts. “We hope that UTA students will be able to appreciate the varied experiences that other human beings have around the globe, and that they will be able to apply an empathetic understanding of those experiences to their own knowledge base and understanding.”