Alaa Murabit

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Alaa Murabit

Alaa Murabit

1989 (age 29–30)
NationalityCanadian, Libyan
Alma materLondon School of Economics and Political Science
University of Zawia
OccupationMedical Doctor
Peace Expert
Women's rights activist
Keynote Speaker
Known forSustainable Development Goal Global Advocate
United Nations High Level Commissioner
MIT Director's Fellow
Forbes 30 Under 30
MIT Media Lab Fellow
Voice of Libyan Women Founder

Alaa Murabit MSC (born 1989) is a Canadian physician, Meritorious Service Cross recipient, one of 17 Global Sustainable Development Goals Advocates appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and a UN High-Level Commissioner on Health Employment and Economic Growth. The co-founder of The Omnis Institute[1], an independent non-profit organization committed to challenging critical global issues through the empowerment of emerging local leaders, and executive director of Phase Minus 1,[2] a conflict resolution and 'inclusive security'[3] consulting firm. Alaa previously founded and spearheaded Voice of Libyan Women at the age of 21.[4]

Her TED Talk, released in July 2015, "What my religion really says about women" has been viewed over four million times,[5] was selected as the TED Talk of the Day and one of four moving TED Talks you should watch right now by The New York Times.[6] and one of 12 TED Talks That Define the Future of Feminism [7]

She is a Forbes 30 Under 30, one of Canada's Top 25 Most Influential Women,[8] and the 2018 Nelson Mandela International Changemaker. Her leadership in global policy and security was recognized by Harvard Law who named her the youngest 2017 Woman Inspiring Change.[9] In 2018 she was recognized as one of 100 Canadian Women of Impact,[10] SheKnows Media BlogHer Voice of the Year, and an Aspen Institute Spotlight Scholar. She has previously been named the Marisa Bellisario International Humanitarian by the Italian Government, the 2014 International TrustWomen Hero by The New York Times, one of 25 women under 25 to watch by Newsweek, a 100 Top Woman by the BBC and the SAFE Global Hero.

Murabit received her Medical Doctorate in from the University of Zawiya in 2013. She went on to receive a Masters in International Strategy and Diplomacy with Distinction from the LSE in 2016 with research focused on inclusive security and securitization processes.

Early life and education[edit]

Murabit was born and raised in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, the sixth of ten children in her family. Her father is a doctor.[11] She has stated that, although she initially had no plans on advocating women's rights, her parents' equal treatment of her and her brothers played an extremely important role in the way she viewed the world, "I know I have a duty to every child to recognize and cultivate their own sense of leadership, because had it not been for my mother, I would not have recognized or claimed my own space to lead."[12]

After completing high school at age fifteen, she moved with members of her family to Zawiya, Libya in 2005.

She studied at the College of Medicine at the University of Zawiya in Libya from 2006 to 2013, and worked at Zawiya Teaching Hospital and at various makeshift clinics during the 2011 civil war.[13][14] When the war began, her father became involved almost immediately with the rebels, providing medical care for rebel soldiers, appearing in SkyNews footage with Alex Crawford under the name "Dr. M", creating insecurity for her family.[15]

Murabit received her Medical Doctorate in from the University of Zawia in 2013. She went on to receive a Masters in International Strategy and Diplomacy with Distinction from the LSE in 2016 with research focused on inclusive security and securitization processes.


2011–2015: VLW, United Nations

Murabit founded Voice of Libyan Women in August 2011 and acted as president until 2015. VLW was founded following the 2011 Libyan Revolution while in her final year of medical school."[13] The organization pushes for inclusive peace processes and conflict mediation by shifting the paradigm around the role of women in society at both the grassroots and policy level and is best known for researching women's security, advocating against gender violence, training women to participate in government and ensure women are recognized in national policies.

Dr. Alaa Murabit addresses the "United Nations Security Council" in October 2015

VLW's Noor Campaign was the focus of Murabit's 2015 TED talk. The campaign challenged the misrepresentation and misuse of religion to negate women's rights. The Noor Campaign is based on community leaders and "brought together over 600 local community leaders, including those who had never worked in civil society before". Working with a network of hundreds of community organizations throughout Libya, including Ayadina Charity in Benghazi, Mothers for Martyrs and The Southern Women's Forum, the campaign reached over 35 cities and communities, as far south as Ghat, Libya on the southern Libyan border, Tobruk and Bayda on the Eastern border and Nalut and Ghadames in the west. The campaign and methodology have since been replicated internationally.

In 2013, she spoke at the Women in the World summit. "During the revolution, I saw phenomenally brave women taking a leading role," Murabit told Lesley Stahl. "Often when violence happens, people excuse it with religion," Murabit said. "Young girls need to know that they can fight fire with fire and say, 'No, my religion is not why you are doing this.'"[11]

She has maintained that peace is only achievable through communities, "The only real solution, the only way to get that grenade or gun put down safely is by filling his hands and head with something else. A pencil, a paycheck, a diploma, a dream – by building up people, by creating institutions we break down wars. By strengthening local peacebuilders we give them the tools to change their communities from within."[16]

In July 2014 Murabit was appointed a member of the United Nations 1325 Advisory Board, which monitors the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security. She has been an Ashoka Fellow since September 2014 and has been an Advisor to UN Women Global Civil Society Advisory Group since October 2014.[14] She is also a founding coalition member of Harvard University's "Everywoman, Everywhere" initiative.[17]

2015–present: Omnis Institute, Phase Minus 1, UN

In May 2015 she also addressed an official TED audience, released in July 2015 as an official "Ted Talk of the Day".[18] The New York Times selected it as one of "4 moving TED Talks you should watch right now."[19]

Dr. Alaa Murabit at the European Development Days 2016

In October 2015 Murabit was selected as the Civil Society Speaker for the 15th Anniversary Open Debate of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325[20] and in January 2016 she became the youngest appointee of 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Global Advocates[21] and later that year she was named a UN High-Level Commissioner on Health Employment and Economic Growth.[22]

In 2016 she founded a global Mentorship Programme for emerging leaders and co-founded The Omnis Institute. In 2017 she became the executive director of Phase Minus 1 and an International Deliver for Good Influencer. She is a board member of International Alert, Keeping Children Safe, Malaria No More and the Malala Fund and was named a member of the Helena Group. She was renamed a UN Sustainable Development Goal Advocate in 2019 by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

She has spoken at leading international conferences including TED, World Economic Forum, WIRED, Munich Security Conference and Hilton Foundation Symposium.

Honours and awards[edit]

In 2018 Murabit received the Canadian Meritorious Service Cross[23], was selected by the Canadian Government Status of Women as one of 100 "Women of Impact" in Canadian history [24] and one of the Top 25 Women of Influence in Canada [25]. Prior to this, Murabit was named the 2018 Nelson Mandela Foundation Nelson Mandela Changemaker[26] and in 2017 was recognized as a Forbes 30 Under 30[27], Harvard Law: Youngest "Woman Inspiring Change"[28], Aspen Institute: Aspen Scholar.

She was previously nominated as an MIT Media Lab Director's Fellow [29], delivered the TED Talk of the Day,[30] was named a BBC Top 100 Woman, [31] and an Ashoka Fellow.[32]. She is the 2013 Marisa Bellisario International Humanitarian Award recipient from the Italian Republic.[33] , One of Newsweek's "25 women under 25 to watch in 2013" and the 2013 New York Times and Thomson Reuters "TrustWomen Hero": "Alaa is a natural leader, and her organization has achieved tremendous tangible impact for women both in politics and society," said HM Queen Noor, Founder and Chair of the Noor Al Hussein and the King Hussein Foundations and Trust Women Advisory Board Member, who presented her with the Trust Women Award. "Alaa's bold thinking and fearless attitude are an inspiration for all women to be the architects of their own future."[34]


Murabit has written articles for The Boston Globe,[35] Wired, the Carter Center,[36] NewAmerica,[37] Chime for Change,[38] Huffington Post,[39] The Christian Science Monitor[40] and Impakter.[41] She is a contributing writer for the bestselling feminist anthology Feminists Don't Wear Pink (and other lies).[42]


  1. ^
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  3. ^ Crisis Group, Inclusive Security. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^
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  7. ^
  8. ^ "Top 25 Women of Influence 2018: Dr. Alaa Murabit". Women of Influence. 2018-09-06. Retrieved 2018-10-08.
  9. ^ "2017 Honorees". Women Inspiring Change. 2017-02-27. Retrieved 2018-10-08.
  10. ^ "Women of Impact".
  11. ^ a b Dickson, Caitlin (Apr 5, 2013). "Alaa Murabit on Fighting for Women in Libya". The Daily Beast.
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b "Giving a Voice to Women in Libya: Five Minutes with Alaa Murabit". Georgetown Journal of International Affairs. Aug 6, 2014.
  14. ^ Crawford, Alex (March 9, 2011). "Special Report: Rebel-Held Town Under Siege". SkyNews. Archived from the original on July 25, 2015.
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Alaa Murabit". Oslo Freedom Forum.
  17. ^ "Alaa Murabit". What My Religion Really Says.
  18. ^ "New York Times". 4 Moving talks.
  19. ^ "UN Live". Security Council Open Debate.
  20. ^ "Sustainable Development Goals Advocates".
  21. ^ "UN Secretary-General appoints High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth".
  22. ^
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  24. ^
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  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ "Ashoka Fellow". Ashoka. 2014. Archived from the original on July 10, 2015.
  32. ^ "Libyan women's rights activist wins second international award". Libya Herald. December 6, 2013.
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^ "Reclaiming Faith". Carter Center Forum on Women. Feb 5, 2015.
  36. ^ "THE POWER OF LIBYA'S FEMALE ARMS DEALERS". NewAmerica. December 18, 2014. Archived from the original on May 21, 2015.
  37. ^ "FROM THE GROUND UP". Chime For Change. July 9, 2013.
  38. ^ "The Key to Countering Violent Extremism". Huffington Post. November 10, 2014.
  39. ^ "In Libya, Islam – and a purple hijab – help spurn domestic violence against women". Christian Science Monitor. March 14, 2013.
  40. ^ "Gender Equality: The Foundation for Achieving the Global Goals". Impakter. 2017-10-23. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  41. ^ results, search (2018-10-02). Feminists Don't Wear Pink and Other Lies: Amazing Women on What the F-Word Means to Them. Ballantine Books. ISBN 9781984819178.

External links[edit]