May 2014—Fereshta Abbasi always dreamed of becoming a lawyer. Now, as a law graduate, adviser to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and the first Afghan national to serve as a judge in the world’s largest international moot court competition, she has actualized her ambitions.
In the past, many Afghan women did not have access to a university education and the chance to develop the skills needed for a public service career. Abbasi is one of a growing number of exceptional Afghan women who are breaking new ground.
Abbasi’s parents fled to Iran before she was born and returned to Afghanistan in 2004, when she was 12 years old. Her parents, especially her father, always encouraged her to excel in school and pursue her career goals. With her family’s support, Abbasi attended the Law and Political Science Faculty at Herat University and graduated in 2013.
As a law student, she competed in the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition in 2013. USAID sponsors the participation of students from Afghanistan, providing coaching and mentoring to the team. Although she was the only female team member, Abbasi traveled on her own to Washington, D.C., despite conservative social norms requiring accompaniment for women her age.
Abbasi’s exposure to law students from around the world inspired her to explore opportunities to return to the Jessup competition after graduation. In 2014, Abbasi was invited to serve as a judge in the international rounds of the competition, the first Afghan national to attain that position.
“Being a judge in international rounds is a unique experience. It was one of my dreams to be an international judge and now I have accomplished this goal,” said Abbasi.
In her current position at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Abbasi hopes to be a role model for other female law students in Afghanistan. She is on her way toward a bright future as a dedicated lawyer in service to her country.
Last updated: July 21, 2014