By Julie Smiley

Justice Hantz Marconi (left), Judge Roeen (center), and Dean Carpenter at the International Day of Women Judges event on March 7, 2024. Photo by Julie Smiley

The New Hampshire Women’s Bar Association (NHWBA), with support from the New Hampshire Bar Foundation (NHBF), recognized the International Day of Women Judges at a reception at the One Hundred Club in Portsmouth on March 7. A resolution to establish the International Day of Women Judges was ratified by the United Nation’s General Assembly on April 28, 2021,1 with redress of gender inequalities in the judiciary at its core. There could not have been a more befitting tribute than a focus on Afghanistan Judge Geeti Roeen’s resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity.

Speakers at the event included Judge Roeen, Circuit Court Judge Ellen Christo, New Hampshire Supreme Court Justice Anna Barbara Hantz Marconi, University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law Dean Megan Carpenter, and NHWBA Vice President Katherine Hedges.

“International Day of Women Judges is a day to show our appreciation for women who fearlessly uphold the rule of law and access to justice, and who forge the path toward greater equality,” said Judge Christo at the start of the evening.

The principles mentioned by Judge Christo are perfectly personified by Judge Roeen, who attended with her husband, Dr. Zia Roeen. The couple and their three young children found safe haven in the Granite State after fleeing the Taliban’s occupation of Afghanistan. The family’s resettlement was initiated by the International Association of Women Judges, with support from the New Hampshire Coalition for Resettlement of Afghan Women Judges (the Coalition).

Judge Roeen was born in Kapisa, Afghanistan. In 1996, while she was in the third grade, the Taliban’s occupation forced her education underground. She began listening to BBC News programming including a daily report of maternal and infant mortality rates, which, due to a lack of women’s healthcare, were inordinately high. Her fierce resolve to better the lives of mothers and children was born.

Following Afghanistan’s liberation from the Taliban by US and British forces in 2001, her aspirations were fulfilled by the successful pursuit of a legal career culminating in a judgeship. Despite Afghanistan’s liberation, her judicial career involved a constant battle against extreme misogyny, including threats of violence and even death. Yet, Judge Roeen persisted.

After the Taliban regained control following the withdrawal of allied forces in August 2021, she was forced to embark on a journey that she “wishes no other human endures” – a harrowing two-and-a-half-year battle for her family’s lives involving months in hiding and dire conditions in refugee camps. With assistance from the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ), the family was finally granted asylum in Manchester in November 2023.

Despite all Judge Roeen and her family have endured, she remains committed to helping women and children in the US and Afghanistan. She has become a leader among a community of 120 Afghan families in Manchester, securing much-needed English classes (knowing that fluency in English is crucial to these families moving forward with fulfilling lives in the United States).

“There is no justice anywhere until there’s justice everywhere,” Dean Carpenter reminded the attendees. She also announced that Judge Roeen has accepted a position as an adjunct professor at the law school.

At the end of the evening, Hedges outlined the importance of recognizing the International Day of Women Judges.

“The reception to honor the International Day of Women Judges provided an opportunity to recognize how increasing the number of women in the judiciary supports equal access to justice all over the world, while at the same time allowing us to reflect on the work that remains to be done to achieve the goal of equity,” she said.

Justice Hantz Marconi, who has been instrumental in organizing support for the Roeen family, observed, “The work of a small team of the IAWJ to get these women judges out of Afghanistan is inspiring, the response of the New Hampshire legal and volunteer community to the arrival of Judge Roeen and her family has been impressive, and the determination and perseverance of Judge Roeen and her commitment to the rule of law is humbling and gives great hope for the future.”

The Coalition continues to solicit support for the resettlement of Afghan women judges, including Judge Roeen and her family. Contributions can be made at


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Dean Megan Carpenter (left) and Judge Geeti Roeen (center) with her interpreter at the March 7 International Day of Women Judges Reception. Photo by Julie Smiley
Circuit Court Judge Ellen Christo (right) introducing Judge Geeti Roeen at the International Day of Women Judges Reception on March 7, 2024. Photo by Julie Smiley
Nearly 60 people attended the International Day of Women Judges Reception event at the One Hundred Club in Portsmouth on March 7. Photo by Julie Smiley