“If you work towards human rights, you will get security and stability, they’re one and the same.”
At the age of 15, Alaa moved from Saskatoon, Canada to Zawia, Libya. She enrolled into medical school and founded The Voice of Libyan Women (VLW) in 2011 at the age of 21. With a strong focus on challenging societal and cultural norms and utilizing traditional and historical role models, Alaa champions women’s roles in peace processes and conflict mediation. She's been nicknamed “The Libyan Doogie Howser” by Jon Stewart and applauded by Oprah for her innovative approach to security. Alaa acts as an advisor to numerous international security boards, think tanks and organisations. This includes the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (women, peace and security) Global Advisory Board, UN Women Global Advisory Board and Harvard University’s “Everywoman, Everywhere” initiative. She’s the first Ashoka Fellow elected from Libya and the youngest recipient of the Marisa Bellisario International Humanitarian Award by the Italian Government. Alaa was named the “International Trust Women Hero 2014” by The New York Times and “One of 25 women under 25 to watch” by Newsweek. She’s been selected as a “100 Top Woman” by the BBC and the SAFE Global Hero. In March 2015 Alaa was selected as the inaugural civil society speaker at the official Commission on the Status of Women’s opening session.
VLW was founded in August 2011 as a result of the February 17 Revolution which renewed the hope for equality in Libya, but also renewed the hope of the Libyan society as a whole in their basic human rights, including women’s rights. VLW has grown considerably since its founding, but remain a youth-led organisation. As a group of young Libyan women from different backgrounds, VLW’s ultimate goal is to advocate for an increased investment into one of Libya’s greatest resources which unfortunately has yet to receive the attention it deserves; women. VLW aims to represent the women of Libya, who despite being more than half of the population, VLW argues in many cases are treated as second class citizens. VLW believe that in Libya, where democracy, rights and even respect for its citizens has been stifled, now more than ever is the time for women to raise their voices.
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