Friday June 23, 2017 04:39 AM EST

Pritpal Singh | England, UK
Posted: 05:48 PM | April 28, 2012

Anarkali Kaur Wins UNESCO Prize

An Afghan women's rights campaigner was one of two winners of a United Nations award last year that recognizes her outstanding contributions for the promotion of tolerance and non-violence.

Anarkali Kaur Honaryar and Palestinian peace activist Khaled Abu Awwad were the winners of United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization’s 2011 Madanjeet Singh Prize for the promotion of tolerance and non-violence, according to a November UNESCO news release.

She was rewarded for “her commitment and tireless work to improve the conditions of women and minority groups in Afghanistan, and to promote the ideals of human dignity, human rights, mutual respect and tolerance,” the news release says. “Anarkali (Kaur) received public recognition for helping women who suffer from domestic abuse, forced marriages and gender discrimination. She is also known for advocating the rights of Afghanistan’s minorities.”

Anarkali Kaur is one of only about 3,000 Sikhs and Hindus who remain in Afghanistan today, according to the BBC. As a member of Afghanistan's minority Sikh community, her constant battles to protect the rights of the needy had earned her the epithet, ‘Sherni', or lioness, of Afghanistan.

Anarkali Kaur began studying medicine in 2001 at Kabul University, according to the BBC. Since graduation she has been working for Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission, which has offices throughout Afghanistan.

In May 2009, she was chosen as ‘Person of the Year’ by Radio Free Europe. She was 25. “The award made her a household name in Kabul,” according to the BBC. “After the parliamentary elections of 2010, (she) became the first non-Muslim woman member of Afghanistan's Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of parliament,” the UNESCO news release says.

Anarkali Kaur was honored in a special ceremony on Dec. 9 at the agency's headquarters in Paris.


The author Sikh from Afghanistan, settled in the United Kingdom. He does seva as a media personality on UK-based faith and community television stations– the Sikh Channel and Sangat Television.

Commentaries are the opinions of the authors, and not necessarily that of Sikh News Network.

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