The Canadian Committee for the United Nations Development Fund for Women has announced the winner of the 8 th annual UNIFEM Canada Award. Nurjehan Mawani, C.M., former federal civil servant and Representative of the Aga Khan Development Network in the Kyrgyz Republic, will be presented the award at a banquet in Ottawa on November 21, where she will speak on the theme, “Transforming Lives and Fragile Societies – Women’s Empowerment through Education.” The award honours Canadians’ work in advancing equality for women and girls.
In her distinguished career as a civil servant, Ms. Mawani held a number of senior posts, including Chair of the Immigration and Refugee Board where she issued groundbreaking new guidelines for the treatment of refugee claimants fearing gender-related persecution. The guidelines were the first of their kind in the world, and recognize the unique challenges faced by refugee women. Other countries have subsequently followed Canada ‘s lead, adopting similar policies.
For the past two years, Ms. Mawani has worked in the Kyrgyz Republic in central Asia , as Representative of the Aga Khan Development Network. Like other countries in Central Asia, including Afghanistan to the south, opportunities are limited for women and girls in the Kyrgyz Republic to pursue education and careers, contributing to the poverty and instability of the region. Ms. Mawani’s work to ensure girls have access to education is helping to advance that fragile society.
“Nurjehan’s contributions to women in the developing world are vital on two fronts. Her work on refugee guidelines changed the way this country and others look at persecution. It’s thanks to her that women without legal protection from discrimination, sexual and domestic violence have an opportunity to rebuild their lives through recourse in the refugee system in Canada and other countries,” said UNIFEM Canada President Fred Farag. “Her work in Kyrgyzstan to bring education to young women will improve the quality of life of many families, and contribute to building peace and stability in the region.”
Ms. Mawani will be presented the award at a banquet hosted by Senator Vivienne Poy at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Ottawa on November 21.