31.08.2017 - UNESCO Office in Amman

UNESCO supports Youth Ambassador Ayat Amr at the UN’s 14th Annual International Human Rights Summit

©UNESCO

Ayat Amr comes from humble roots; her parents were raised in UNRWA’s Hus’n camp for Palestinian refugees and she was raised modestly. It is perhaps this past that has created in her a great appreciation for the suffering of others. Ayat has always been an avid volunteer and found herself helping out at Mar Mansour orphanage a few years ago. During her time there, she created a “dream box” and encouraged the children to write down their dreams and put them inside. When she read the “dreams”, she felt heartbroken. Kids had written things like, “I dream of getting a headband”. Ayat knew that she had to do something to get these children to dream bigger. The positive impact of her involvement at the orphanage has now touched the lives of 500 children.

Dreaming big has always been Ayat’s way. When Ayat was in seventh grade, her father Mohammad took her to visit the National Education Center for Robotics in Jordan, a place where people were creating and designing smart robots. She was enamored and immediately set about trying to fundraise the money required to enter the robot competition the following year as her family could not afford to dedicate $1,700 to this pursuit. It took her two years to save but Ayat returned and won the programming award in the competition and her interest in Engineering and Robotics was cemented. She is currently finishing up her undergraduate degree in Computer Engineering at Hashemite University and has plans to work towards a Master’s program in International Relations.

As a strong woman living in the Middle East, Ayat has encountered obstacles along her path. At 19, when Ayat was awarded a life-changing internship at Microsoft in Germany and the United States, her Dad was anxious about her travelling and living alone, away from her family in Jordan. He resolved to tag along. After seeing Ayat in action abroad, Ayat’s father began to trust his daughter more deeply. Mohammad began to openly challenge those warning him against giving his daughter her freedom and no longer allowed society to pressure him into sheltering Ayat.

UNESCO has supported Ayat in her activism. In February 2017, the UNESCO Amman office sent Ayat to represent Jordan at the Youth General Assembly at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City; an event that centered on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It was with her father’s blessing that Ayat travelled alone to the event.

This month, Ayat has been selected as a Youth Ambassador to represent Jordan at the 14th Annual International Human Rights Summit in New York, taking place between August 24-28th. The UNESCO Amman office is sponsoring her travel from Jordan. The sessions will focus on improving awareness surrounding human rights and Ayat will be focusing specifically on the right to education, while meeting other influencers from across the world at the United Nations Headquarters.

Ayat’s story is one of triumph and an optimistic future shines ahead for this bright star. Ayat is a strong believer that constructive progress begins with the individual; “You have to create opportunities for yourself and work for change in your own community first”. Ayat strives to lend her powerful voice to life-changing work and has been involved in UNESCO’s “Networks of Mediterranean Youth” project, in Jordan. Financed by the European Union, the three-year project (2014-2017) has been implemented by UNESCO in partnership with youth organizations, institutions and partners. The project aims to contribute to the effective participation of youth in developing and implementing national strategies and policies affecting young women and men through their access to relevant information and resources.

When Ayat returns from the UN Summit in New York, she will continue her studies and her outreach work in schools teaching students. “I hope my experience as a young woman will inspire girls as I work towards fulfilling my duty as a global citizen. I want to represent youth and discuss openly the challenges we face. Our role in society goes far beyond academic involvement; public service and giving back serve to make the world a better place”.




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