During the Women’s Advancement Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa, last May, Almas Jiwani received the 2013 MDG Meritorious Award to reward her hard and long-lasting work in favour of women’s empowerment around the world. Now CEO of UN Women Canada, she used to be the vice-chair of the Aga Khan Council for Canada, where she worked with refugee women. With her expertise on business development, she also worked on women’s education projects in the developing world, and helped build socially responsible businesses.
On the occasion of receiving this award – one of many – , Almas Jiwani talked with Opinion Internationale about her work with UN Women Canada, about women’s situations around the world, and shared her hope for a gender equal future.
OI: Why did you decide to dedicate your life to improve women’s conditions around the world?
A.J.: When I immigrated to Canada in my early teens from Africa, I noticed that many communities had apathetic attitude towards women and did not allow them an environment for their intellectual and social growth. It was during these times, that I witnessed the work of the Aga Khan IV to change this general dis-empowering attitude various communities held towards girls and women. I also realised the importance of making a difference in the lives of the underprivileged, alleviating poverty, and uplifting women in society. This realisation inspired me to begin volunteering with initiatives to promote women and advocate for their empowerment.