Women’s World Summit Foundation (WWSF) granted the 2018 international prize for women’s creativity in rural life to Iran’s Ziba Azizi for her tireless leadership for the education of students in rural areas, especially girls, WWSF website reported.
Azizi, 35, a teacher from Qasr-e Qand city in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan, has also been addressing and raising awareness on issues like child marriage in her community, where it is still widespread, the report added.
According to WWSF, Azizi made attempts for distribution of school supplies in dozens of schools, the fundraising and supervision of the construction of restrooms in deprived rural areas (something especially important for women), preventing 30 cases of child marriage (each case demands many hours of negotiating with the families involved), and finally teaching destitute women one of the traditional weaving handicrafts made by Baluch women, “Souzan-Douzi”.
Azizi has even been able to market the product, combining it with modern art and selling it under the brand name “Noora”, thereby creating employment opportunities for many women heads of household in critical need.
Above all, she has become an outstanding role model for women and girls in a culture where they still have to struggle to find their place.
In 2014, Ziba started collaborating with her nominator for the prize, Imam Ali’s Popular Student Relief Society (IAPSRS).
Azizi started an IAPSRS learning center in one of the most impoverished rural areas of Sistan-Baluchestan, which has provided education for children who have no schooling. The center is called Khane-Elm, where a new culture is being born, one giving equal rights to girls as well as boys to be educated.
Rural women from Nepal, Honduras, Colombia, India, Switzerland, Guatemala and Mexico are also among the winners of the Prize for women’s creativity in rural life, 2018.
According to WWSF women’s section, rural women comprise more than one quarter of the total world population. 500 million women live below the poverty line in rural areas. Women produce 60-80 percent of basic foodstuffs in sub-Sahara Africa and the Caribbean. Women perform over 50 percent of the labor involved in intensive rice cultivation in Asia.
“Rural women the world over are an integral and vital force in the development processes that are the key to socio-economic progress. Rural women from the backbone of the agricultural labor force across much of the developing world and produce 35-45% of Gross Domestic Product and well over 50% of the developing world’s food. Yet, half a billion rural women are poor and lack access to resources and markets.”
In 2016, Homeyra Rigi was appointed in Qasr-e Qand as the first Iranian Sunni female governor.
Appointment of a woman as the highest executive authority of the city created a big change in the viewpoint of people toward women. The rule of a female governor has spread self-belief and self-confidence among women, which had no considerable social activity before.