Refugee girl aspires to become her country’s first female foreign minister
PESHAWAR, 27 July 2018: Growing up in a refugee camp, Safia was engulfed by fear and uncertainty – but she never gave up and continued chasing her dream to get an education.
Safia Ibrahimkhel’s parents fled Afghanistan when civil war broke out in the country in the 1980s.
Born and raised in the sprawling Kacha Garhi camp in Peshawar, Safia, 25, was passionate about education – with special interest in international relations and aspirations to be the first female foreign minister of Afghanistan.
After passing 6th grade in Kacha Garhi camp, Safia moved to another location and studied until the 12th grade. She completed her masters in political science at Peshawar University in 2014.
“Don’t let your fears dominate your thoughts. Once you break the barrier of fear, you achieve success,” she said, quoting her mother.
When Safia was studying at school, she would see people addressing the United Nations General Assembly. “My dream came true when my essay for the UNHCR’s global youth advisory council got selected,” she recalls.
Safia had a fear of flying but she made it to Geneva to represent the region and provided her inputs and recommendation for Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF). “I stressed that refugees and host communities should work together to identify and address issues and find solutions,” she said.
At another High Commissioner’s dialogue event, she spoke about imparting quality education, the involvement of academia and shedding light on how they could both play a positive role in peace-building.
Safia taught English and computer studies for one year at a school near her house in Peshawar and worked with different NGOs. Now she has decided to enroll herself in a master’s in philosophy, focusing on international relations.
Being an active youth activist working for women’s social and economic empowerment, she is hopeful that the women of Afghanistan will make progress and play their part in rebuilding their country.
She wants peace in the region. “Love is beyond border and nationality,” she said. “I believe women are good decision-makers and also good peacemakers.”
Qaiser Khan Afridi in Peshawar