Zakira Hekmat

2023 IVLP Impact Award Project: Bridge to the FutureTürkiye

Dr. Zakira Hekmat is an advocate for migrants and refugees with over 12 years of experience. She has actively participated in work that especially lends a voice to the problems of refugees, protects their rights and contributes to their access to rights. Born in Afghanistan, Dr. Hekmat moved to Turkey after completing her high school education. In pursuit of her passion for medicine, she earned a degree in medicine from Kayseri Erciyes University, where she later began her medical practice as a doctor in Kayseri. Dr. Hekmat then founded the Afghan Refugees Solidarity Association (ARSA), an organization that focuses on the systematic improvement of the protection and social cohesion of refugees. Dr. Hekmat has organized numerous social cohesion activities for local communities.

In recognition of her achievements, Dr. Zakira Hekmat received the "Young Leaders Award" from the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Foundation in 2007. She also earned her the title of "Peacebuilder of the Year" by the US-based HasNa organization in 2020. In 2021, she was honored with the "Angela Burdett-Coutts" Award by İGAM, followed by "The Women of The Year Award" presented by SES in 2022. Most recently, in 2023, she was recognized with the "International Women of Courage Award" by the United States Department of State at the White House. As the President of Afghan Refugees Solidarity Association, Dr. Hekmat continues to support the refugee community.

IVLP Impact Award Project: Bridge to the Future

Dr. Hekmat's project created a peer-to-peer education program for refugee activists to enhance their skills and knowledge and to create a network of support for their advocacy efforts. The program addressed common issues encountered in volunteer work and provided the basic skills necessary for volunteers to train effectively on these topics. The training program adopted an interactive and participatory approach. 30 refugee activists from 15 cities were empowered to become effective advocates for their communities by attending program workshops focused on Turkish asylum laws, gender equality, leadership, and community organizing. A robust network of support and collaboration among refugee activists was established during this project and mentoring relationships implemented during the workshops will continue. The educational skills training program for volunteers resulted in improved presentation skills, communication strategies, and cultural sensitivity, measured through participant feedback and observed outcomes in their volunteer work. Positive testimonials from participants highlighted personal growth, increased confidence, and the ability to make a meaningful impact in their communities. 

"My IVLP...motivated me to develop a project that celebrates cultural exchange, fosters cross-cultural understanding and promotes intercultural dialogue in my own community." - Dr. Zakira Hekmat

IVLP Exchange Experience 

Dr. Zakira Hekmat was a recipient of the International Women of Courage Award, organized by the U.S. Department of State and Meridian International Center.

Dr. Hekmat's experience led to the development of her IVLP Impact Award Project, describing how her IVLP resources' "profound insights and unwavering dedication ignited a flame within [her], compelling [her] to take action and make a meaningful difference in [her] community."

U.S. Communities Visited

Los Angeles, CA; Washington, DC; Kansas City, MO

"While embarking on my IVLP journey, I encountered a multitude of enlightening experiences and inspiring individuals who shaped my perspective on the world." - Dr. Zakira Hekmat

Country: Türkiye

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