Interview with 2022 Aurora Prize Laureate Jamila Afghani
The Press Office of the Global Campus of Human Rights asked the Aurora Prize 2022 Laureate Jamila Afghani about her work in Afghanistan to help women, youth and children in refugee camps.
Please share with us about your background and role in Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organization (NECDO).
I started my career in humanitarian aid in 2001 when I founded NECDO. I was supported by a group of volunteers to help Afghan women, youth, and children in refugee camps. I remained in charge of its leadership until 2015, when I became a member of the board of Directors. Since then, my key role at NECDO has been to support the wider team with their forward plans, priorities on proposals and fundraising, as well as advisory on ideas and initiatives to partake in.
Since its established, NECDO has helped women, youth, and children with multidimensional activities, including educational opportunities, humanitarian and development assistance, as well as income generation across 22 provinces in Afghanistan.
How was being recognised as Aurora Prize 2022 and how will it help with your activities with NECDO in the future?
I believe that the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative is a platform created to spread a message of peace and unity. It gives a voice to those suffering and in distress, also helping humanitarians shed a light on the challenges that their communities are enduring. Through their generous grants and donations, the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity has been contributing to prosperity and wellbeing across many communities. It provides the means for humanitarians to connect with each other, collaborate, and amplify their voices against war and violence.
I am lucky to be one of the finalists of the 2022 Aurora Prize. This award will help me expand my work with our partners in Afghanistan and allow us to reach more women and girls that need our support. I am currently in talks with my partners at NECDO, as well as our partners at Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) to ensure that our scope is expanded to all those in need. My priority is to ensure that we make the most out of Aurora’s support by helping women transform their lives and secure a more prosperous future for themselves and their families.
The Global Campus of Human Rights created last year the scholarship programme for Afghan scholars and students at risk. In this area, what is your opinion on the importance of human rights education in your country Afghanistan?
Human rights education is key and of great importance in any country, but especially in war-torn countries like Afghanistan. We have been living in these dire conditions for more than four generations. The only way to change the course of our country is through educating our future leaders. We need leaders whose mentality is focused on forging unity. We need leaders that pursue peace instead of conflict and encourage co-existence and tolerance. Only through education are we able to shift the mindset of future generations to secure a more peaceful and inclusive society.
Congratulations on this wonderful initiative, and I am very interested in learning more about your program. Whether through online sessions with your students, or active discussions with your teachers, I would love to offer my support and find means of collaboration.
What could be the added value you see in Human Rights Education for helping to prevent and resolve conflicts? How can international academic networks like ours in Venice (a city with a rich Armenian heritage and international reach) contribute to Aurora Laureates’ humanitarian missions?
I believe that all humanitarian issues, varying across different societies, sectors, and regions, are important to prevent future conflict. It is one of the core foundations to helping future leaders shift their mindset from war and violence to peace and unity. For example, in Afghanistan, the majority of the population is comprised of youth; however, with limited access to education, job security and income stability, they turn to violence and extremism.
As we look ahead, we should encourage alternative means of access to education. We must focus on providing online courses and curriculums since many communities have restricted access to physical attendance. It would be useful to also localise this content by offering courses in multiple languages, which helps reach a wider audience with limited language capabilities. Slowly but surely, education will help us shift the mindset of our youth and help them focus on building a country that promotes unity, diversity, and peace.
Could you give a personal message to the students, professors, partners, and staff of the Global Campus of Human Rights?
Students, you have a wonderful opportunity to change the course of many people’s lives. Please utilise it to the maximum and learn from your teachers, professors, and supporters on the ground to help societies in need. Many countries are now in need of humanitarian leaders, peace promoters and inclusive leaders who believe in the power of solidarity.
Teachers, you have a huge responsibility of preparing our future leaders for the struggles of the world; the burden of our war-torn societies is on you. Continue to learn about people’s battles and don’t be afraid to address the difficult conversations and questions about how to improve our societies.
We all need to support each other and lean on each other to make this world a better place. We must encourage each other to appreciate its beauty instead of focusing our energy on war and conflict. I am keen to contribute to your program and I hope to one day share my story with your students and your teachers.