Lamar Zala Gran, an accomplished education and women’s rights activist from Afghanistan, has dedicated her efforts to empower women and children since 2020. As the founder and president of the Empower Afghan Women Nonprofit Organization, she advocates for Afghan women, raises awareness about their situation, and provides online education for young girls across the country. Lamar’s impactful work has gained international recognition, and she has been featured in prominent media outlets like BBC World News, La Repubblica, and Politico. Her commitment extends beyond borders, as she collaborates with global educators and leaders to improve the educational prospects and rights of Afghan women.
What has been our greatest / favorite achievement so far and why?
1. I have written twenty columns for Tagesspiegel Newspaper and it was my greatest achievement ever because through my columns I conveyed my ideas and concerns with the West and the Rest of the world. Another achievements were appearing on international media platforms and I wrote my daily dairies with them when I was living under Taliban back to home.
2. I spoke with policy makers, influencers, activists and leaders around the world including speaking Secretary Hilary Clinton on BBC World News, Jamila Anna Schäfer member of German Parliament, EU parliament member, US especial envoy to Afghanistan, US ambassador, and a panel discussion with Australian Embassy ambassador and international donors; the main focus of my talks so far was to remind the world about Afghan women. I appeared on UN LDC5 about Afghan women and education, spoke on UN refugee forum, and UN international youth conference.
What motivated you to start your own business?
I started a nonprofit organization because back to home I remember we missed school due to war, poverty, menstrual cycle and some girls couldn’t walk to school due to longer distances and sometimes financial circumstances. I saw my friends were getting married in an early age, some of my friends worked full time, and personally I was affected by the quality of education and sometimes lack of financial resources and poor quality of education in schools badly affected me.
But today the current situation of Afghanistan motivates me to make awareness and educate women volunteer to save their time and make a big impacts in the society. Through my nonprofit I would like to prove to the Taliban even if they close the schools or universities, still we will do our best to show sisterhood.
What does success mean to you?
Success means financial independence, professional achievement, self-empowerment, helping out more people in my community, become a change maker, more education and more knowledge.
What is your mantra or favorite saying?
My father used to say me, “if you want to fight for Justice and the rights that you have, you need to get ready to take the risk and stand on your goal.”
What failure taught you the most about life or business?
I remember back to home when the Taliban occupied the country it was so hard for me to breath and when the evacuation attempts failed couples of time I used to get frustrated and emotional. But today after making a long journey to come here in USA and winning the scholarship; I learned patience, tolerance, and trusting to make all efforts and our abilities. Today, I learned even after moving to a more developed and western country we still have struggles and challenges on our way.
If you could teach the world one 5-minute lesson, what would it be?
If I were to teach the world a five-minute lesson based on my journey and advocacy, I would focus on the transformative power of education in uplifting the lives of women and children. I’d emphasize the crucial role of awareness, collaboration, and global support in addressing the challenges faced by Afghan women. My lesson would underscore the need for ongoing efforts to promote human rights, especially for women, and the importance of fostering positive change in communities globally. Through education, awareness, and united efforts, we can create a more inclusive and empowered world for everyone.
Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently when you were first starting out?
Reflect on potential challenges and be open to adapting strategies as needed. Embrace the learning curve, seek guidance from experienced individuals, and stay resilient in the face of obstacles. Remember, every experience, whether successful or challenging, contributes to growth and improvement.
What does women's empowerment look like to you in action?
In practice, women’s empowerment entails fostering an atmosphere in which they are granted equal rights, opportunity, and autonomy. It entails endorsing and advocating for programs that advance women’s access to decision-making positions, economic independence, and education. Destroying gender stereotypes, promoting inclusivity, and standing up for women’s rights are all examples of empowerment. It’s about giving women a forum to express their views, making sure they participate in a variety of disciplines, and actively attempting to remove structural impediments. In the end, women’s empowerment in action creates a society in which each woman is free to follow her dreams, make her own decisions, and influence constructive social change.
What would you tell 19-year-old YOU?
I would advise my 19-year-old self to embrace curiosity, be receptive to new experiences, and not be frightened of making errors. Spend time pursuing your passions, picking up lessons from setbacks, and concentrating on your own development. Remind yourself that life is a journey of never-ending learning, surround yourself with positive people, and ask for help when you need it. Have faith in your skills, maintain your fortitude, and have faith that the experiences you acquire will mold a purposeful and happy future for you.
What will 86-year-old you want you to know TODAY?
It might serve as a reminder to me from your older self to value deep relationships, treasure time spent with loved ones, and devote time to activities that truly make you happy. It might stress how crucial it is to preserve one’s physical and mental health, follow one’s passions, and be open to change. In the end, this viewpoint may emphasize the importance of leading a balanced and contented life, motivating you to make decisions now that will lead to a happy future.