In 2022, together with Aga Khan University we launched the Women’s Leadership Academy – a six-month blended online course specifically for representatives of civil society organisations, the healthcare sector and education from five countries in Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Madagascar and Mozambique) and four countries in Asia (Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and Tajikistan). While there are similar courses available, they’re mostly in English. Initially, our course will be translated into Urdu, Portuguese and Russian.
We also have an exciting new girls’ leadership programme in design, called GEM GIRLS – a girls’ environmental movement, girls for inclusive and resilient livelihoods. Through existing AKF global education programmes and platforms, the girls access mentoring support so that they can become more engaged in the environmental issues impacting their communities and raise the awareness around the climate resilience agenda.
What motivates you as an individual to do this work?
As I mentioned, I am from Tajikistan. I don’t come from the capital, Dushanbe, I come from a small city on the border of Uzbekistan, and because of the civil war, my parents did not want to send me to Dushanbe for higher education, because it simply wasn’t safe. But I convinced my parents to let me go and study at university. Since then, I have always been a big advocate of girls’ education. I really believe that if you empower girls – especially adolescent girls – to build their skills so that they can study and graduate, then they can take responsibility of their lives in the future.
Nowadays, I am most motivated when I travel to the countries where AKF works and talk to the women and girls we serve – it’s really inspiring. I will never forget my visit to India in August 2019. There, we have a project supporting women in goat farming. I spoke to one of the women and she told me, “I am so tired of these goats, I want to work in an office!”. To me, that showed true empowerment, because while she was grateful for the opportunities she had, she wanted something bigger – a role with a bigger impact for herself and others. And that is what we should all be working towards.