Two women, worlds apart and living very different lives. Their worlds collided when Nazanin Afshin-Jam opened her email one afternoon and saw a message marked “Urgent.”
Nazanin Afshin-Jam is an Iranian-Canadian model, singer, and human rights activist. She is a former Miss World Canada and Miss World first runner-up, and has been an advocate for human rights in her role as president and co-founder of Stop Child Executions. She and her family immigrated to Canada in 1981. Nazanin is married to Peter MacKay, Canada’s Minister of National Defence.
An international model and actress, Nazanin became Miss World Canada in 2003 and joined in the Miss World contest in Sanya, China, ranking second. She entered the Miss World competition whose motto is “beauty with a purpose” to have a stronger platform to speak on human rights issues. Afshin-Jam traveled worldwide representing many causes including helping victims of the tsunami in India and Sri Lanka, raising funds for the earthquake victims of Bam, supporting fistula patients in Ethiopia, fundraising for Variety the Children’s Charity, bridging the digital divide through youth advocacy and raising awareness on the practice of Bear Bile Farming in China.
Afshin-Jam continues to address human rights abuses worldwide particularly in relation to women and children in Iran and the Middle East including speeches at UN, EU, Canadian and UK Parliament. She has had media features on CNN, BBC, CBC, FOX, Al Jazeera and numerous radio shows, talk shows and print including Glamour, Seventeen, Chatelaine, Flare and Vanity Fair magazine. Just recently she was on Canada AM promoting her book, The Tale of Two Nazanins in which she writes about Nazanin Mahabad Fatehi, a young Iranian woman who was sentenced to hang for stabbing one of three men who tried to rape her and her niece in Karaj in March 2005.
The former beauty queen started a campaign to help save the life of her namesake including a petition which attracted more than 350,000 signatures worldwide. She has also dedicated her song “Someday the Revolution song” -one of the 12 songs on her album -Someday to Nazanin Fatehi and some other youth in Iran. Eventually, with pressure from the international community, Nazanin Fatehi was granted a new trial by the head of Judiciary in June 2006. In January 2007, Nazanin Fatehi was exhonerated of murder charges and was released on January 31, 2007 after Afshin-Jam raised $43,000 on-line for bail while her lawyers worked on her case. For her efforts in helping save Nazanin Fatehi, Afshin-Jam was awarded the “hero for human rights award” from Youth For Human Rights International and Artists for Human Rights at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
In 2009, Nazanin starred role of Táhirih in Jack Lenz’s movie , Mona’s Dream, about the life of Mona Mahmudnizhad. That same year, Nazanin along with 266 other Iranian academics, writers, artists, journalists about signed an open letter of apology posted to Iranian.com about the Persecution of Bahá’ís. She won the YMCA Power of Peace Award as “Young Emerging Leader”.
Nazanin has written a book which she hopes will bring her leads as to where Nazanin Fatehi and her family are. Since 2010, Nazanin has not heard from the young woman. This experience has opened Nazanin’s eyes to need to mobilize world support to fight injustices against women and she hopes to make a difference on a global scale. Through her speeches and music Afshin-Jam hopes to continue being a “voice for the voiceless” and deliver her messages of freedom, peace and love worldwide.
Notes to Women applaud this beauty who is a woman of action and a champion of human rights. We hope that she will one day be in touch with the young woman whose life she saved.
I didn’t know anything about her
No one else was trying to do anything to help her, so I thought why not me?