“I have a dream that the echoes of conflict will be replaced by the harmonious voices of dialogue and understanding. But dreams alone are not enough; it is our collective actions that will turn this dream into reality…. Peace is not reserved for worlds leaders, it starts in our communities and in our homes. Peace requires action.”
Nilofar Ayoubi is a women and human rights defender from Afghanistan. In her talk, she shares her story of resilience and survival. Having dressed as a boy in order to have access to education in Afghanistan, she is now a public speaker and activist for gender equality.
Nilofar’s activism started from a violent encounter with the Taliban at an early age. Out of fear for her life and due to the risk of forced marriage, for the majority of Nilofar’s childhood she was dressed as a boy, to ensure her safety and access to school.
During her university years, Nilofar actively engaged in journalism and championed women’s rights. Despite threats of violence after marrying a prominent Hazara diplomat, she persevered and founded multiple businesses in Afghanistan, generating employment opportunities for hundreds of women.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nilofar coordinated the distribution of food aid to 15,000 families in West Kabul. She established the Women’s Political Participation Network, uniting women from diverse backgrounds to advocate for collective political rights. Her family survived a violent attack in 2020.
Due to her profile, she was an immediate and high profile target when the Taliban resumed power in August 2021. She was interviewed as stating, “I am waiting for my death”. Nilofar was prioritized for urgent relocation to Poland where she has Temporary Residency status.
In Poland, Nilofar’s efforts garnered international recognition as an advocate for Afghan women and girls. She participated in numerous European conferences and collaborated with entities like the EU Special Representative for Afghanistan and the UN Special Rapporteur for Afghanistan. She also spoke at the TEDx Warsaw Women 2021 event.
As a Founding Partner of organisations in Poland and the USA, Nilofar continues to serve as CEO of Asia Times.Af and Editor in Akhbar-Alan, ensuring accurate coverage of Afghan news, particularly the ongoing challenges faced by women and girls.