Niloufar Pourzand: From one challenge to another
Niloufar Pourzand has worked with UNICEF for nearly 20 years, in Iran, in Afghanistan and now as the Programme Coordinator in Tajikistan.
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NEW YORK, 14 August 2004 - Niloufar Pourzand is Iranian and the mother of two daughters. She has worked with UNICEF for nearly 20 years, spending time in Iran and Afghanistan. She is currently working in Tajikistan. The Persian language is spoken in all three countries.
Niloufar began as a national staff member in Iran. While still in Iran, she held the position of Gender and Education Officer. She then became an international staff member and went to Afghanistan, eventually becoming a Child Protection Officer. Niloufar is currently the Programme Coordinator in Tajikistan, where her main responsibility is to oversee the effectiveness and efficiency of the UNICEF programmes in that country.
During this time, Niloufar has experienced considerable challenges often faced by UNICEF staff members. She has worked in very intense and difficult situations, doing so in conditions where working women confront many additional difficulties. Often, she spends considerable time away from her family. She was a crucial member of the small team that re-established the work of UNICEF in Iran during the critical years following the revolution of 1979, as well as during the years of war with Iraq. In Afghanistan, she worked during the many years of Taliban conflict.
Now in Tajikistan, she works alongside colleagues trying to ease the transition from post-conflict recovery to social development. Tajikistan became independent upon the breakup of the Soviet Union, after which it endured a period of devastating civil war.
Niloufar recently completed her PhD in Sociology, Gender and Ethnic Studies, with a thesis entitled Tapestry of Resistance: Educated Afghan Refugee Women in Pakistan. Her MA was in the same field, based on her work in Mazar Sharif, Northern Afghanistan. She has published a number of academic articles on these topics, and has contributed to many conferences and seminars. She is also member of the Women in Conflict Zones Network, and serves on the Advisory Board of several academic and development-related projects. These include ‘Gender, Education and Development: Beyond Access’, based at the Institute of Education in the UK.
Niloufar feels very privileged to have had the opportunities and experiences she received through her work with UNICEF. She believes that the teamwork, commitment and knowledge of her UNICEF colleagues, along with the support of all partners, will one day empower children and women to achieve the full realization of their inherent rights.