Women’s rights and human rights activist, Marzia, recently joined the School of Law to share her story as part of a special talk organised by student representative Jenna Harrison and chaired by Professor Karen Morrow.

The talk covered Marzia’s life story from her experiences as an Afghan asylum seeker through to becoming a powerful women’s rights activist and politician.

Marzia originally came to the UK as she was forced to flee her home country after being targeted by the Taliban for setting up a foundation for educating girls in Pakistan. She had previously worked as a judge in PuliKhumri Baghlan, and alongside this, she established a women's organisation called the "Afghan Women Social and Cultural Organization" to empower women, as well as working with a range of similar organisations and NGOs.

When Marzia arrived in the UK she was unable to speak a single word of English. As an asylum seeker she was unable to seek paid work, but this did not stop her working tirelessly as a volunteer in the community. On receiving her refugee status, she focused on improving her English, and was finally granted British citizenship.

During her education in the UK, Marzia was given an award as a student at Oldham College for having made a significant contribution to college and community life. She later won the Fusion Woman of the Year Award, and she was also nominated for a Pride Award in Oldham, the city in which she now lives. Recently, she has been short listed for a Northern Powerhouse Women's Award as an outstanding mentor.

Marzia’s continuous work for underprivileged people, particularly those in the refugee community, has led her become a speaker, trainer and leader in many community projects in the UK. She continues her work in the UK, having been elected as a candidate in the local elections in which she represents the Labour Party in the Failsworth Ward.

Her talk received a suitably warm reception, with comments from the audience including:

“I’m so inspired by your story and words.” “Thank you so much for gifting us the opportunity in listening to your story.” “You are such a strong woman and an amazing inspiration.”

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