|History and Biodata
Mrs. Shaharzad Akbar is uzbek/arab and was born 1987 in Jowzjan Province in Northern Afghanistan and has a mixed ethnic background. She has become the first Afghan woman to study at Oxford University after defying the Taliban to get an education (20091120). During her childhood Ms Akbar risked her life to learn to read and write, fearful that she would be caught and punished by the Taliban who did not believe women should be educated. She was one of the first students to receive the new Weidenfeld-Hoffmann Scholarship set up to help people from emerging economies. Akbar is doing a Development Studies masters at Oxford's Department of International Development. She is in the second year (20110308) of an MPhil in development studies on the Weidenfeld Scholarship and Leadership programme. Shaharzad completed an MPhil at Oxford University as a Weidenfeld scholar in 2011; previously she obtained her BA (cum laude) in anthropology from Smith College in the U.S.
Shaharzad Akbar is currently Chairperson for Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. She was previously Deputy National Security Council on Peace and Civilian Protection. Shaharzad has also worked Senior Advisor to Afghan President on High Development Councils (August 2017-August 2018) and in this capacity, coordinated the prioritization of development projects and programs for high level decision-making. Prior to this, Shaharzad was Country Director for Open Society Afghanistan (Sep 2014-July 2017), a non-profit that supports Afghan civil society and media in areas of peacebuilding, human rights and promoting tolerance. Before this, Shaharzad was partner and chief operating officer with QARA Consulting, a firm owned and run by young Afghans in Kabul which she co-founded in 2010, an analyst for the Free and Fair Elections Foundation, a journalist for BBC Afghanistan and a research assistant on the Women of Courage book project. In 2012, she was the first elected chairperson for the Afghanistan 1400 movement. Born in Jawzjan, Afghanistan in 1987, Shaharzad lived for a few years as refugee in Pakistan during the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.