Mary is a vocal advocate for women’s rights in Afghanistan, Executive Director of AWSDC and the Chair of the Board for the Afghan Wmen’s Network (AWN). In 2003, Mary opened the first Afghan shelter for survivors of violenceagains women in her country. Since then, she has worked with police forces and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs to ensure the governments’ recognition of safe houses, and to ensure strong referral systems for women survivors of domesticand sexual violence. In 2008, Mary was arrested because of ther vocal leadership around sheltersand safe houses. She’s also received numerous death threats throughout the years, and works under the threat of attacks and retaliation on a daily basis.
In 2016, Mary brought together hundreds of religious and civil society leaders from all over Afghanistan together to discuss violence against women, and came up with a plan to tackle it across the country. After two days of lively discussions, they reached an agreement and shared eight recommendations to the government. The President himself took action with the recommendations and vowed to work with civil society to implement them. Mary also opened a restaurant in which survivors of domestic violence and women living in shelters can earn a livelihood. She believes in giving women chances to rebuild their lives, and she has given hers to ensure such possibilities to others.