News

Courageous Women's Rights Campaigner to Inspire University of Sydney Audiences


7 September 2010

As a special guest of the Faculty of Arts' Human Rights and Democratisation Initiative, Ms Pakzad will convey the experiences of her remarkable life journey on Tuesday 7 September in a free public lecture.

Born in Afghanistan during the years of armed conflict against the Soviet-backed government in Kabul, she experienced firsthand the tyranny of the Mujahideen. Suraya Pakzad rebelled against the dictatorship's rules to obtain an education at a time when simply going to school was a transgression warranting death for young girls in Afghanistan.

Her desire to achieve equality in education saw her establish a clandestine girls school in the living room of her home in 1998; a flagrant act of defiance against the strict Taliban rule, which forbade the education of women.

This small haven of resistance against Taliban rule was the humble beginnings of the Voices of Women Organisation (VWO). Twelve years on, and Suraya Pakzad is still overcoming death threats and adversity to advance women's education and human rights in Afghanistan through essential education, job training and legal and social aid.

The tireless women's rights campaigner will share with University of Sydney audiences the lessons she has learnt in furthering the plight of women in the face of despotism in a special free public lecture.

With funding secured in 2008 from the European Commission (EC) for the establishment of the Human Rights and Democratisation Initiative, the Faculty of Arts now offers a Masters of Human Rights and Democratisation (Asia Pacific), which commenced in July this year.

Suraya Pakzad's talk will consider the ongoing human rights atrocities that still occur against Afghani women despite the fall of the Taliban nine years ago, and the complications involved in carrying out her essential work in the context of the growing insurgency in Afghanistan.

The public lecture will also encourage questions from guests to spark discussion on human rights issues as part of the Human Rights and Democratisation Initiative's fulfillment of its community engagement agenda.

Suraya Pakzad has attained global recognition for her life-changing work, receiving the United States of America Women of Courage award in 2008 and the National Medal (Malali Medal) in her native Afghanistan in 2008. Her inspirational visit to the University of Sydney is made possible through the generous sponsorship of Amnesty International and The Voice of Women Organisation (VOW).

Event details


What: Suraya Pakzad - Free Public Lecture

When: 12-2pm, Tuesday 7 September


Where: Teachers College Assembly Hall, University of Sydney

More information:


Contact: Niaz Kandhir

Phone: 0415 924 165

Email: 5b05227d67584778415a024f1c321105062359343142170d2344