TU student featured at the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women - The University of Tulsa
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TU student featured at the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women

Mursalina Amin headshot
Mursalina Amin

During spring break, many students opt to find themselves a spot on the beach. Instead, University of Tulsa political science senior Mursalina Amin found herself at the United Nations, speaking on a panel at the 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68).

In 2021, Amin was evacuated from her native Afghanistan during the Taliban takeover. She transferred from the American University of Afghanistan to the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. After studying there for almost two years, she received a full scholarship to TU supported by the university, the Afghan Future Fund, and Qatar Scholarships for Afghans Program.

A fierce advocate for women’s rights, Amin founded a nonprofit organization called Girls Toward Leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. It aims to empower young Afghan women by providing educational opportunities, offering programs, and advocating for girls’ rights.

“All universities and schools were closed for Afghan girls and everyone else,” she said. “Seeing young girls, including myself, suffer from the situation and being confined at home with nothing to do, I initiated this online capacity-building platform. Currently, I lead a team of over 18 volunteers from different countries, all working toward the same goal of empowering Afghan girls.”

Most recently, her advocacy journey earned Amin a trip to New York City for CSW68. She was on a panel moderated by H.E. Adela Raz, former Afghan representative to the UN, and she spoke alongside distinguished panelists Manizha Wafeq, co-founder of the Afghanistan Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Mahbouba Seraj, an Afghan journalist and women’s rights activist. Amin highlighted her work with Girls Toward Leadership, focusing on the challenges Afghan girls face in accessing their right to education.

“I raised concerns about Afghan girls’ education, employment, travel, and other fundamental freedoms,” she explained. “I discussed the limited opportunities available for the growth of Afghan women and girls. Additionally, I addressed how poverty exacerbates violence against girls, leading to child and forced marriages. I also voiced concerns about the security of Afghan women under the Taliban regime, including risks such as being forcefully arrested for their attire and for advocating for their rights.”

She urged action to address these issues, proposing the immediate reopening of schools and universities to Afghan girls, offering scholarship programs, facilitating global opportunities, and streamlining visa processes for those seeking education abroad.

“The more I raised concerns, the more it felt like a burden was being lifted from my shoulders,” Amin explained. “It makes me emotional to think about how the international community turns a blind eye to what Afghan girls and women face under the Taliban regime. With the least I can do to still raise their voices on global platforms, it feels profoundly joyful. I worked on every sentence of my talk to ensure I didn’t forget to mention the suffering of girls and women in Afghanistan. I will try my best to utilize any opportunity to be their voice and not let the world forget my country.”

TU Associate Professor of Anthropology Danielle Macdonald serves as the university’s liaison with the Afghan community on campus, helping to make sure students like Amin feel a safe sense of belonging in Tulsa.

TU Student Mursalina Amin standing in front of statue
Mursalina Amin standing in front New York’s United Nations Headquarters

“The work that Mursalina is doing to support Afghan girls’ education is inspirational, and a testament to importance of continuing to support Afghan women in higher education,” said Macdonald. “Mursalina and TU’s other Afghan students have brought a wealth of knowledge, experience, and new perspectives to our campus, helping make TU a vibrant multicultural community. I am so excited to see the amazing things that Mursalina will continue to contribute to Afghan girls’ education on the global stage.”

At TU, Amin has taken three courses with Professor of Political Science Jeffrey Hockett, including Human Rights & International Politics & Law and International Human Rights Atrocities. He’s watched her thrive in the classroom and emerge as a leader on campus.

“Mursalina’s involvement in the 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women is impressive not only because she was asked to join a panel of distinguished professionals at an event sponsored by the United Nations,” Hockett explained. “What’s most remarkable is that, at such a young age, Mursalina has established an international reputation as a powerful and effective advocate of the fundamental economic and political rights of Afghan girls.”

Now that she’s back in Tulsa to finish her second semester on TU’s campus, Amin looks forward to continuing her studies and expanding the work of Girls Toward Leadership. She said she enjoys being an international student at TU, and next semester she plans to be a peer mentor to help new students adjust to living on campus.

“I enjoy connecting with the staff and applying for different programs on campus, like the peer mentorship,” Amin said. “I feel like I am spending quality time learning and meeting people who are bound by no limits in their pursuit of success.”