Meet Najiba, a fearless defender of women's rights | ActionAid UK

Daniel Hale

Women's Rights Campaign Manager

A shocking one in three women experience violence during their lifetimes. But at ActionAid, we see some of the thousands of fearless women leading the fight against violence. Najiba, from Afghanistan, works as a paralegal for women, giving hope to thousands in one of the most dangerous countries in the world. This is how she’s dedicated her life to defending women.

Najiba, right, with her family
Najiba, right, with her family

Najiba’s story

Najiba grew up dreaming of working for women’s rights and empowerment, only to have her education cut short by forced marriage as a teenager. She was devastated to see the same thing happening to countless women around her:

“My dream was to be a good advocate for women’s rights in Afghanistan. I saw parents who didn’t allow girls to go to school, or stopped girls at the early stages of their study, forcefully arranged marriages, continued abuse by husbands and other close relatives. It upset me a lot and I decided to work for them.”

Since then, Najiba has dedicated her life to supporting and representing the women in her country. Working with ActionAid and other human rights organisations, she gives legal help to women in Afghanistan, mediating thousands of disputes to protect women from violence. After starting a voluntary service counselling abused women in her area, she became the manager of a safe home, protecting many women from violence at great threat to her own personal safety.

Najiba, a fearless defender of women in rural Afghanistan

Nowadays, she continues to run the safe home, giving legal and psychological support to the women who stay there, all while studying law so that she can better represent the women in her country.

On her work at the safe home, she says: "I’m doing the right thing, we are the only one that can take care of them."

You can stand with Najiba

Najiba’s not the only one who runs great risk to herself by standing up for women’s human rights. In a recent survey for ActionAid, almost two thirds of women’s human rights defenders asked said they felt less safe now than they did two years ago.

This can’t go on. And this summer, we have a chance to make sure it doesn’t. World leaders are deciding on a target to end violence against women as part of the upcoming Sustainable Development Goalsso we need to make sure that the target stays, that governments put proper resources behind it, and that women like Najiba are involved from the start.

If we miss this moment, women and girls will pay with their bodies, their choices, their opportunity and their lives, for generations to come.

We’re standing with women like Najiba to end violence for good.