Guess what? The US Department of State said that Zakira Hekmat, a doctor and founder of the Afghan Refugee Solidarity Association, is one of 11 winners of the 2023 International Women of Courage Award.
- As per the US State Department website, Hekmat was born an internally displaced person in Ghazni and completed high school secretly under the Taliban’s first period of control.
- “After winning a scholarship to study in Türkiye, she eventually qualified as a medical doctor in 2018. Throughout her medical studies, Dr. Hekmat volunteered with refugee assistance organizations where she recognized a need to advocate for marginalized refugee groups’ rights and access to services. From a one-room office, she founded the Afghan Refugee Solidarity Association in Türkiye in 2014, where she has since worked tirelessly to advocate for the rights of all refugees and women,” the statement read.
- It added that because of Dr. Hekmat’s efforts, many Afghans, especially women, girls, and minorities, have received access to refugee protection and asylum.
- The U.S. Department of State also announced that Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and First Lady Jill Biden are scheduled to host the 2023 International Women’s Courage Award on March 8, International Women’s Day.
- Since 2007, the U.S. Department of State has been awarding international courage awards annually to women activists from around the world, with more than 180 women from 80 countries, including Afghanistan, receiving the award.
Zoom out: Previously too, Hekmat has been a recipient of many accolades for her tireless work in the field of refugees.
- Hekmat had earlier said that her formative years in Afghanistan shaped her identity. Teaching poor children in Ghazni, she said, shaped her lifelong commitment to social justice by reconnecting marginalized people with the rest of the society.
- Now her focus is on refugees, especially widowed women, refugee girls and children, by promoting education, language-learning, cultural programs, capacity building, child-focused activities, translation services for refugees and conducting awareness programs.