The above short documentary video and interview with Mr. Rahimi was produced by a UNDP StoryCorps crew for the 2015 N-Peace Awards ceremony. © Copyright 2015 N-Peace Award.
Afghan Girls' Schools Headmaster Rahmatullah Rahimi honored by United Nations Development Programme with 2015 N-Peace Award
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On September 7, 2015, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Association with the N-Peace Network announced the ten 2015 N-Peace Awards honorees. Being honored this year for his inclusive peacebuilding work and lifelong commitment to supporting refugees is our Headmaster, Rahmatullah Rahimi. Mr. Rahimi is being honored in the category Network Campaigning for Action: Women and Men Mobilizing for Peace. Each year, one woman and one man are recognized in this category for "national-level mobilization and advocacy efforts that have resulted in the advancement of women, peace and security."
The N-Peace Awards recognize and profile women and men leaders and peacebuilders creating change at the grassroots to national levels across Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, and the Philippines. N-Peace (Engage for Peace, Equality, Access, Community and Empowerment) is a multi-country initiative managed by the UNDP to further the women, peace and security agenda and promote broader conflict prevention and peace building work in Asia. The Awards Gala in New York City on October 23 was the culmination of a two-day program for honorees at the United Nations. Activities include a Portraits of Peacebuilders storytelling event and a Women, Peace and Security panel discussion hosted by the UNDP and the Irish Government.
Mr. Rahimi migrated in 1979 with his family from his native Afghanistan across the border to Pakistan. The family lived in an Afghan refugee camp where he continued his education. After finishing school, he started his career as a primary school teacher in a school for refugees. During his time as a teacher, Mr. Rahimi realized that there were no education opportunities for girls and started a volunteer school for girls living nearby. Initially, there was very little support for these efforts within the Afghan refugee community. Mr. Rahimi’s commitment to educating the girls was resisted.
After struggling for five years and being challenged by several in the refugee community, Mr. Rahimi was successful in establishing his first Modern School for Girls. Through unwavering determination and skillful engagement he eventually won over key community elders who now support him in promoting girls' education. The two schools that we built, fund, maintain and oversee in the refugee camp near Akora Khattak in NW Pakistan run by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – were the first in that initiative. A UNDP StoryCorps film crew created the documentary short film about our schools (see below). It is also posted on StoryCorps.org.
Focused on the needs of women as well as girls, Mr. Rahimi has initiated vocational, technical, and basic educational programs for local women neighboring the schools. He has pioneered Refugee Women’s Councils, establishing monthly meetings with the women and providing them with a space to voice their issues and concerns.
Congratulations, Mr. Rahimi, on your outstanding work and this much-deserved honor.