Creating Economic Opportunities for Women in the World's Most Challenging Places

February 15, 2017 - 2:00pm to 3:30pm

On Wednesday, February 15th, from 2:00 to 3:30pm, the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) hosted a panel discussion on the ways in which we can create economic opportunity for women in the world's most challenging places.

All over the world, myriad challenges make it difficult for women to become economically empowered. These impediments include societal constraints and unsupportive policy environments. Yet, the drive to improve their lives through entrepreneurship is strong in many women—even in some of the toughest places to get ahead. Panel speakers will share their experiences helping to create opportunity for women in Papua New Guinea, Afghanistan, and the Middle East, and will discuss best practices for building an environment where businesswomen can thrive.


  • Eli Webb, Country Director for Papua New Guinea, CIPE
  • Muzhgan Wafiq Alokozai, Owner, Impressive Consulting and Former President, Afghanistan’s Peace Through Business Network
  • Hajar Al-KuhtanyReagan-Fascell Fellow, National Endowment for Democracy
  • John Morrell, Regional Director for Asia, CIPE (discussion moderator)

About the panelists:

  • Eli Webb is CIPE Country Director for Papua New Guinea, where she is directing CIPE’s work on the ground including the launch of PNG Women’s Business Center. Webb has decades of experience confronting gender-based and sexual violence in PNG. She also has a background in media, and her expertise in marketing is helping to attract attention to the vulnerable status of women and girls in PNG.
  • Mozhgan Wafiq Alokozai is the CEO of Impressive Consulting and former president of Afghanistan’s Peace Through Business Network. She started her first business in 2004, which was a cafe shop in Kabul Women’s garden, and in 2007 she established the first businesswomen's shopping center in Kabul. She has mentored about 50 women-owned businesses during the past seven years and has received many awards, including the Best Afghan Female Leader award from the Afghanistan Investment Support Agency, Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries and Export Promotion Agency of Afghanistan. She has a degree in International Business from the Welingkar Institute of Management.
  • Hajar Al-Kuhtany is executive director of the International Forum for Islamic Dialogue (IFID), a London-based NED grantee organization that holds workshops and fosters dialogue on issues relevant to Muslim communities around the world. She is also co-founder and chair of SN21, an Amman-based youth-empowerment organization that mentors young leaders throughout the region. As a master trainer and course developer, she organizes civic education programs that have reached more than 20,000 Arab youth throughout the Middle East. In addition, she serves as editor of Enlightened Monitor, a periodical published by IFID. While working in the Iraqi prime minister’s office in 2004–2007, she witnessed the country’s descent into violence and left Baghdad convinced that democracy starts at the local level. Her involvement with youth groups preceded and accompanied the turbulent transitions of the Arab Spring, giving her firsthand exposure to the challenges that face democracy in traditional social settings. During her fellowship, Al-Kuhtany is examining how traditional Muslim worldviews influence the perception of democracy in the Middle East and how civic education programs, especially youth-based ones, are used to strengthen democratic values.
  • John Morrell (moderator) is Regional Director for Asia at CIPE. In this role, he strategically guides program development and ensures effective implementation of a portfolio of programs on anti-corruption, corporate compliance, public and private sector governance reform, policy advocacy, and creating political space in closed countries. He personally designed numerous high-impact projects that build the political, market and civil institutions necessary for private sector led economies and democratic societies across the region. Prior to joining CIPE, John managed projects across the developing world on issues including microfinance, emerging market risk analysis, and urbanization. He produced several studies on topics related to corruption and public-sector governance and conducted internal fraud investigations of multinational corporations. Morrell also founded a nonprofit organization supporting orphans in the Philippines. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Economics from the University of Virginia, a Master's Degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University, and was a Graduate Fellow in International Management at Oxford University.


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