The Massey Dialogues – On Human Rights Activism and Advocacy
This event will be broadcast online and is welcome to all – there is no login or registration required to tune in from the comfort of home. Click here to watch the livestream.
Principal Nathalie Des Rosiers hosts Mozhdah Jamalzadah, Senior Fellow Nurjehan Mawani, and Junior Fellow Komin Qiyomiddin for this Dialogue to mark International Human Rights Day, which is observed every year on 10 December — the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
As a small child, Afghan-Canadian Mozhdah Jamalzadah fled, along with her family, across a perilous mountain range into Pakistan. To escape notice, the family dressed as peasants, with Mozhdah’s mother, Nasrin, donning a blue burka — to many a symbol of oppression — giving her the anonymity needed to avoid the attention of soldiers. Many years later, Mozhdah, an internationally acclaimed singer, television host and activist, wore Nasrin’s burka in the movie Red Snow.
Directed by Marie Clements, Red Snow is a war drama about a Canadian soldier, captured by the Taliban, who escapes with the help of Mozhdah’s character Khatira. For Mozhdah, the movie — and the wearing of the burka — brought home how much has changed in Afghanistan. But it also emphasized how precarious these advances are.
With today being International Human Rights Day, the world looks anxiously at the imminent withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. Many fear this will leave a power vacuum for the Taliban to fill — a potential tragedy for Afghans and especially Afghan women, who have supported the creation of a liberal, democratic nation where they are equal to men.
Ms. Jamalzahad’s story was told in the book Voice of Rebellion: How Mozhdah Jamalzadah Brought Hope to Afghanistan by Roberta Staley.
This week’s Dialogue is taking place on a Thursday… just to switch things up a little! Click here to watch the livestream of this event. The Dialogues are open to the public – we invite everyone to join and take part in what will be a very informative online discussion. Participants are invited to submit questions to the speakers in real time via the youtube channel’s chat function. For information about the Massey Dialogues salon series, click here.
Mozhdah Jamalzadah is a Kabul-born, Vancouver-based singer-songwriter, media personality and women’s rights activist.
She’s been called the Oprah of Afghanistan for having had a talk show debating taboo subjects like child marriage, violence against women and divorce in post-Taliban Afghanistan. She has guested on the Oprah Winfrey Show and performed at the Whitehouse for the Obamas on International Women’s Day. Mozhdah has won several “Best Artist of the Year” awards, and her biography, The Voice of Rebellion, written by Roberta Staley, just released October 2019. She recently made her acting debut in the movie Red Snow, written and directed by award winning Canadian director Marie Clements.
Nurjehan Mawani C.M. served as the AKDN Diplomatic Representative to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan from 2013-2019 and to the Kyrgyz Republic from 2005-2013. As Ambassador, she guided AKDN’s engagement through periods of political instability, insecurity and economic transitions while coordinating the expansion of the Network’s development activities to strengthen critical human and institutional capacity. In these endeavours Mrs. Mawani and the agencies of the AKDN worked in close collaboration with government, international partners and civil society to improve the quality of life, remaining steadfast to AKDN’s underlying philosophy guided by His Highness that “human progress depends on human cooperation.”
Mrs. Mawani has also had a long and distinguished career with the Canadian Public Service where she served as Commissioner of the Public Service Commission of Canada, Advisor on Diversity to the Canada School of Public Service and as Chairperson of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). Widely recognized for her contributions to public service and the advancement of women, Mrs. Mawani is a recipient of the Order of Canada and the Outstanding Achievement Award of the Public Service of Canada. In 2004 she received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Ottawa for her distinguished record of public service and commitment to equality and diversity, and in 2018, she received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the American University of Afghanistan for her leadership and contribution to the development and improvement of quality of life in Afghanistan.
A newly-appointed member of the Board of Directors of the Vancouver Foundation, in Fall 2020 Mrs. Mawani was also elected Senior Fellow at Massey College, where she is serving as a member of the Anti-Black Racism Council. Born in Mombasa, Kenya, Mrs. Mawani is a lawyer and has practiced both in the United Kingdom and Canada. She is now based in Vancouver with her family.