GNWP’s Nikou Salamat recognized for peace activism, receives Kim Phúc Youth Peace Leadership Award

GNWP’s Nikou Salamat recognized for peace activism, receives Kim Phúc Youth Peace Leadership Award

The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) is thrilled to announce that our very own Research Officer, Nikou Salamat, has received the Kim Phúc Youth Peace Leadership Award. Launched in 2014, the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace’s (VOW) Peace Awards recognize outstanding contributions of Canadian women working towards a stronger, more peaceful world.

Nikou Salamat, who has been working with GNWP since April 2020, co-leads the COVID-19 and WPS Database and supports the implementation of women-led and youth-led peacebuilding initiatives in Central Africa, including most recently in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Nigeria.

GNWP extends its warmest congratulations to Nikou! We are proud to have Nikou as part of our team.

Learn more about Nikou’s journey and what inspires her activism:

Tell us a little bit about yourself, who is Nikou?

N: I am a young professional and passionate advocate for Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and Youth, Peace and Security (YPS). As an intersectional feminist, my advocacy is based on the notion that transformation of intersecting systems of oppression is essential to achieving full enjoyment of human rights for all.

I have recently completed my Bachelor of Social Sciences in Conflict Studies and Human Rights at the University of Ottawa, and look forward to pursuing graduate studies. My research interests include the role of grassroots women’s organizations in building peace in conflict-affected and post-conflict contexts, as well as advancing women’s rights in post-conflict reconstruction. Finally, I have a love for languages – I speak English, French, Farsi (Persian), and I am currently learning Spanish!

What brought you to peace activism?

N: As a first-generation immigrant to Canada with my parents, I became acutely aware of the inequities, ongoing injustices and egregious human rights violations occurring around the world. In parallel, my awareness of the privileges I enjoyed, including the protection of my human rights, was also heightened. I view peace activism as not only a professional endeavor, but a deeply personal one too. My experiences led to my passion for peace activism, as I believe that without gender justice and the fulfillment of human rights for all, there can be no sustainable peace.

What are you most proud of?

N: I am most proud of the initiatives that I contributed to at GNWP, including the policy advocacy, peacebuilding programming and research projects we have accomplished in collaboration with our partners over the past year. Specifically, our COVID-19 and WPS Database fills a key evidence gap on women’s leadership at the grassroots level during COVID-19. Our work to document women-led responses in peacebuilding and humanitarian action has proven essential to advocating for gender-responsive and conflict-sensitive COVID-19 recovery. I am also proud to have worked alongside the Young Women Leaders for Peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in mobilizing young women’s meaningful participation in peacebuilding and women’s rights advocacy.

Who inspires you?

N: I am profoundly inspired by the activism of women peacebuilders and human rights defenders around the world. Countless women’s rights and feminist activists are currently facing backlash, persecution and imprisonment under inhumane conditions for their work. It is their tireless activism for social justice in the face of repression and threats which inspires my work. My parents are also one of the main sources of inspiration. Without their immense sacrifice and support, I would not have the opportunities that I do today. Lastly, I am incredibly inspired by my team members at GNWP and our collective commitment to the feminist principles that drive our work!

If you had to give advice to your younger self, what would it be?

N: I would say get as involved as you can and seek to learn from those that are leading on the issues you care about! Building solidarity across feminist and social justice movements means connecting with young people and organizations around the world, listening to voices that are silenced and expanding your perspectives beyond your comfort zone. Also, read as much as you can – knowledge is power, and translating that knowledge into action is even more powerful.