Making a world of difference

Nazanin Afshin-Jam is a human rights activist, president and co-founder of Stop Child Executions, former Miss World Canada and Miss World first runner-up and the upcoming speaker for Selkirk College’s Mir Centre for Peace winter lecture series.

Nazanin Afshin-Jam

Nazanin Afshin-Jam

Nazanin Afshin-Jam is a human rights activist, president and co-founder of Stop Child Executions, former Miss World Canada and Miss World first runner-up and the upcoming speaker for Selkirk College’s Mir Centre for Peace winter lecture series.

She will be speaking passionately about the rights of women and children in her native Iran, particularly regarding the issue of capital punishment and minors.

“Nazanin has an unbelievable amount of knowledge, experience and zeal,” says Mir Centre for Peace chair Randy Janzen. “It’s contagious and hard not to get caught up in the causes she so strongly advocates for. This presentation is bound to be one that the citizens of our community will not easily forget.”

In 2006 Afshin-Jam successfully ran an international campaign (that included a petition that attracted more than 350,000 signatures worldwide) to save the life of Nazanin Fatehi, a juvenile sentenced to death in Iran for stabbing in self defense one of three assailants that tried to rape her and her niece.

With pressure from the international community, Nazanin Fatehi was exonerated of murder charges and was released on January 31, 2007, after Nazanin raised $43,000 online for bail while her lawyers worked on her case.

Afshin-Jam’s battle against child executions continues. She is president and co-founder of the Stop Child Executions organization (stopchildexecutions.com) with the goal of halting the practice in Iran and in the handful of other countries where it still continues.

Born in Tehran in 1979 at the height of Iran’s Islamic revolution, Afshin-Jam and her family were forced to flee after her non-political father was arrested, tortured and nearly executed. They immigrated to Canada in 1981. After obtaining a double major degree in international relations and political science at the University of British Columbia, and undertaking scholarship studies at Sciences Po in Paris and the International Study Centre in the UK, Afshin-Jam became an advocate with the Red Cross as a global youth educator, teaching on subjects ranging from the landmine crisis and children affected by war to the poverty disease cycle and natural disasters.

In 2003, Afshin-Jam entered the Miss World competition whose motto is “beauty with a purpose” to have a stronger platform to speak on human rights issues. She won Miss Canada and runner-up at Miss World.

This exciting Mir Lecture takes place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, February 2 at Mary Hall in Nelson. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for seniors and students and are available at all Selkirk College campus bookstores and Otter Books (250-352-3434) in Nelson.