Raised in Kandahar, Maryam Sahar Naqibullah has dedicated her life to building peace, democracy and equality in Afghanistan since the age of 15. While living in conflict-ridden Kandahar, Maryam worked as a Protection Assistant for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as a Gender Advisor for the US Department of State, as a Legal Interpreter for the International Legal Foundation – Afghanistan, and as a Human Resources assistants for several Afghan women’s associations.
From 2009 to 2011, Maryam provided interpreter support to the Canadian Forces. She supplied interpretation for training sessions, interviews, conferences, NGO meetings and women’s council meetings throughout Kandahar. When the Taliban learned of her work, they kidnapped and tortured her brother as a means to warn her. Due to her life being threatened by the Taliban, Maryam was granted Permanent Residency in Canada in October of 2011.
While in Canada, Maryam has continued to be a force for change among her fellow Afghans. From 2012 to 2013, she worked as a Subject Matter Expert at the Centre for Intellectual Learning, Canadian Foreign Service Institute, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD). During the Canadian Forces' service in Afghanistan, she travelled across Canada to educate hundreds of Canadian Forces personnel in Afghan history, religion, women’s issues and governance. Maryam works closely with the immigration house where she first stayed upon moving to Ottawa from Kandahar in 2011. She provides translation assistant to immigrants and has supported several Afghan immigrants in getting settled in Ottawa. As previous project assistant with City of Ottawa and as Researchers for International Documents of Canada.
Maryam worked Gloucester Emergency Food Cupboard as Operation Assistant as well on short period of contract with Voice Canada a non-profit organization who's mandate is the prevention of child sex abuse and commercial sexual exploitation. The NGO deliver training and raise awareness throughout Canada and provide front line support to victims of sex trafficking in Ottawa and Eastern Ontario through The Hope Found project.
Maryam has garnered much recognition for her dedication to building peace in Afghanistan, including USAID’s Franklin Award for her “extraordinary performance of duty in advancing gender-specific human rights strategies in Kandahar Province.” In addition to the three languages she already speaks, Maryam is now fluent in English and is learning French. She attends Carleton University and is completing her undergraduate degree in international relations.
Meeting and hearing Maryam promises to be a life-changing experience. Meet her in Orlando!