A human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Nadia Murad is a leading advocate for survivors of genocide and sexual violence. The founder and president of the non-profit Nadia’s Initiative, Murad will be joined by translator Abid Shamdeen, the executive director and co-founder of the non-profit, for a Chautauqua Lecture Series discussion on the need to create greater awareness of sexual violence and the needs of its victims, and the need to defend the rights of all marginalized ethnic and religious minorities.
In 2014, ISIS attacked Murad’s small farming village in Northern Iraq and killed thousands of Yazidis, including her mother and several of her brothers. She was taken to Mosul and forced, along with thousands of other Yazidi girls, into sexual slavery. After escaping captivity, Murad relocated to Germany as a refugee and began her work as an activist. In 2016, Murad became the first United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking. In 2018, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Other awards include the Council of Europe Václav Havel Award for Human Rights, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, the Clinton Global Citizen Award, and the Peace Prize from the United Nations Association of Spain. In 2019, Murad was appointed as a UN Sustainable Development Goals Advocate.
As a member of France’s Gender Advisory Council, Murad advocated for G7 member states to adopt legislation that protects and promotes women’s rights. She was instrumental in drafting and advocating for the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 2467, which expands the UN’s commitments to end sexual violence in conflict, and was a driving force behind UN Security Council Resolution 2379, which established the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL.
Shamdeen is a global development specialist and executive director of Nadia’s Initiative, a non-profit dedicated to rebuilding communities in crisis and advocating for survivors of sexual violence. Born and raised in Sinjar, Iraq, for the past six years, he has advocated for victims of the Yazidi Genocide and has managed projects that have brought aid and assistance to internally displaced Yazidis in Iraq. Shamdeen worked for the United States Army in Iraq as a cultural advisor and translator. He holds a master’s degree in Political Science from the School of International Service at American University.
For the Chautauqua Lecture Series, Murad will deliver opening remarks in English, followed by a conversation and moderated Q-and-A with Shamdeen serving as an English translator for Murad’s responses in her native Kurmanji (Northern Kurdish).