The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), has announced that Iraqi human rights activist and 2018 Noble Peace Prize winner, Nadia Murad, will be joining the discussions at the third edition of the Investing in the Future Conference (IIFMENA), on October 24–25, to shed light on the how the youth in the MENA region can overcome the challenges they face surrounded by war and conflict, sharing her own personal journey as she was held captive by the Islamic state for three months by the Islamic State.
IIFMENA 2018, which is organised by TBHF under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and his wife, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Muhammad Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA), is Murad’s first formal public appearance after she has become the first-ever Iraqi recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize this year for her efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.
Themed ‘Youth – Crisis Challenges and Development Opportunities’, the conference seeks to offer the young Iraqi Yazidi human rights activist and founder of Nadia’s Initiative – dedicated to helping women and children victimised by genocide experience – a global platform to share her inspiring story with the MENA region’s youth and instill hope in the millions who struggle to stay ahead of their harsh circumstances by telling them how she transformed her sufferings into a formidable example of peaceful resistance, courage, patience and hope.
Nadia says that receiving the Noble Peace Prize has become a symbol of inspiration for women and youth not only in the region but around the world who are victims of war, violence and brutality. She asserted that it is a strong message to the militants and fundamentalists that hostility and oppression do not stand a chance before the courage and determination of the oppressed, especially the youth.
Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of TBHF, said: “It is an honour to be bringing a global role model for the youth who has emerged in our region, and whose life is a reflection of what millions of youth in MENA are being subjected to. By offering her the IIFMENA platform, we aim to communicate her inspiring message to innocent women and youth who are victims of war of crises; and show them that their determination and collective strength be key to transforming their sufferings and agony into triumph and a hope-filled future. Nadia is an example to everyone.”
Al Hammadi underscored that she hopes to see many international organisations and entities shed light on the stories of other brave heroes like Nadia and promote their extraordinary stories globally, stimulating people to raise their voice against injustice and oppression. They highlighted that those stories are a source of inspiration not only to war victims, but to all those who seek to overcome their hardships, no matter how difficult.
“Nadia’s presence at IFFMENA is a big success in furthering our objective to make the region’s youth’s voice heard, offer them a platform to meet leading rights advocates, international experts, state entities and NGOs, and share their challenges as well as their vision about the future and the ways they aim to shape it,” Al Hammadi concluded.
In September 2016, Nadia Murad was appointed as the first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), defending the rights of 1,300 Yazidi women were still captives by ISIS.
Her inspiring memoir The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State (Little, Brown Book Group: New York, 2017) takes us from her peaceful childhood in a remote village in Iraq through loss and brutality to safety in Germany.
Presently, Nadia and her team are focused on the Sinjar region of Iraq through the foundation’s newly created Sinjar Action Fund.