VENICE — The seventh annual Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity was awarded to Jamila Afghani, an educator, human rights defender, and founder of the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organization (NECDO), on October 15. Afghani has dedicated 25 years to the women of Afghanistan access to education. She was commemorated during a series of high-level philanthropy-focused events hosted by the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative in Venice, Italy on October 14–16.
Before August 2021, NECDO had more than 100,000 women enrolled in literacy programs, thanks to the establishment of small centers in many communities led by local women. The organization also provides legal aid and psychosocial support to more than 10,000 women victims of abuse from a family member or a partner. Forced to flee Afghanistan, Jamila is continuing to help others at distance.
After the Taliban took over her country, Afghani had to leave her homeland, but she has not given up on its people. NEDCO is still supporting women of Afghanistan and vulnerable families, shedding light on lack of access to education, domestic violence, and other contemporary issues faced by women today, while providing financial aid to the human rights defenders, journalists, and advocates.
“Our mission at Aurora is to recognize, celebrate and spread the work of humanitarians like Jamila Afghani around the world. Today’s modern-day heroes inspire and guide us and show us how to persevere in the face of seemingly overwhelming challenges. They remind us of our common humanity and encourage us to show the same commitment to serving the poor and marginalized. They remind us, too, of our duty to give everyone an equal chance,” said Lord Ara Darzi, Chair of the Aurora Prize Selection Committee and Co-Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London.
Every year, the Aurora Prize is granted by the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative on behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors. The Laureate receives a $1,000,000 grant and a chance to continue the cycle of giving by supporting organizations that help people in need. As 2022 Aurora Prize Laureate, Jamila Afghani has chosen to support Women International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organization (NECDO). WILPF is a membership-led international organization that seeks to promote world peace by advocating for disarmament, abolition of violence, women’s human rights, and gender equality, and NECDO is a non-governmental organization that provides humanitarian and development assistance to women, youth, and children in Afghanistan.
“From my professional experience, I know that the human rights issue is a struggle. We go through these periods, and this is one of them, when it’s not very clear how we are going to see the way forward on so many issues, when we are running out of time. People like Jamila Afghani shine a light of hope on the future and show us all a way out of the darkness,” noted Aurora Prize Selection Committee member Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.