The Afghan human rights activist Shaharzad Akbar has been advocating for an inclusive and democratic future for Afghanistan since her youth. Born in northern Afghanistan in 1987, her childhood was marked by her family's escape to Pakistan from the Taliban in 1996. After her bachelor's degree in Anthropology at Smith College in the USA, Shaharzad Akbar became the first Afghan woman to complete a postgraduate degree and MPhil in Development Studies at Oxford University. She is an alumna of the FES Afghanistan Young Leaders Forum (YLF), a mentoring programme from 2004 to 2021 for young Afghan leaders in government, civil society, trade unions, media and academia.
As Chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) from 2019 to 2021, Shaharzad Akbar gained international recognition. She on various occasions spoke at the United Nations Security Council and various international fora. Under her leadership, the AIHRC was a trusted point of contact for all Afghans to document human rights violations and advocate for the protection of their rights. Previously, Akbar was a member of the National Security Council and of various development councils of the Afghan government. From 2014 to 2017, she was Country Director of the Open Society Foundation's office in Afghanistan. Shaharzad Akbar was the first chairperson of the 1400 Afghanistan Youth Movement, which she co-founded in 2012. Exemplary for her commitment, the movement's goal was to develop a democratic and inclusive vision of the future across ethnic, religious and political boundaries.
Today, she lives in exile with her family. She heads Rawadari, a human rights organization which campaigns for human rights in Afghanistan, and is a visiting lecturer at Wolfson College, University of Oxford. In 2021, she was awarded the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law and was a finalist for the Sakharov Prize.
With the FES Human Rights Award 2023, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung honours the unwavering commitment of Afghan human rights activist Shaharzad Akbar and her courageous engagement as the last Chairperson of the AIHRC from 2019 to 2021.
Shaharzad Akbar is an impartial voice for democracy and human rights, and did not only criticise the Taliban, but also the Afghan government and the international community during the years of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. She is a genuine advocate for the human rights of all Afghans and, set an example for dialog and reconciliation with her participation in the intra-Afghan peace conference in 2019 in a country torn apart by more than 40 years of war.
The FES cordially invites you to the official award ceremony with Minister of State Reem Alabali-Radovan, Member of the Bundestag and FES General Secretary Dr. Sabine Fandrych, as well as a panel discussion on “What future for Afghanistan? Dialogue, Human Rights, Taliban” with – among others – the Award Winner Shaharzad Akbar, Michael Müller, Member of the Bundestag and Chairman of the Study Commission “Lessons from Afghanistan for Germany´s Comprehensive International Engagement in the Future”, the Commissioner for Indo-Pacific Policy, South Asia and Afghanistan of the Federal Foreign Office, Ambassador Erik Kurzweil and Dr. Almut Wieland-Karimi, International Political Advisor.
We look forward to your participation in the event and the following reception!
Please register until 22 November 2023.
For further information about the Award Winner and the programme please visit www.fes.de/en/menschenrechtspreis.
The event will be interpreted into English and German. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding the barrier-free organization of the event.
In accordance with the information obligation according to Art. 14 GDPR, we point out that photos and video recordings will be made during this event. By participating, you agree that we may use these for reporting and public relations purposes.
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