The five-week Minorities Fellowship Programme was launched by the UN Human Rights Office in 2005 to offer ethnic, religious, and linguistic minorities an overview of the United Nations human rights system with minority rights as a key component.
Enam Abuljalil El Asfour, one of nine Fellows participating in the programme in 2011, is a member of the Shiite minority community from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The 35-year-old describes herself as an activist who trains and educates members of the Saudi Shiite minority on human rights issues.
According to El Asfour, the Shiites represent approximately 10 to 15% of the population in Saudi Arabia and face discrimination in various areas including economic, political, and gender. “I work at the national level to reduce the gap between the different components of the Saudi Arabian population and to flatten the differences between social groups,” she says.
El Asfour is also the founder and President of the Women’s Cultural Forum working to support the professional and personal development of women in Saudi Arabia. “The Forum aims to enable Saudi women, to strengthen their position and employ their energy in building the community, to give them equal opportunities in all aspects of life,” El Asfour says.
Through the Minorities Fellowship Programme, El Asfour hoped to gain more experience and build her skills in defending and promoting human rights and minorities issues.
El Asfour is currently working on her Master of Political Science at the Open Arab Danish University in Denmark.
17 July 2012