With just a few days until the 2018 Gender 360 Summit on June 11, which EnCompass is co-sponsoring, we are pleased to feature insights from another EnCompass staff member who will present on our work related to “Positive Girl and Boy Development,” the summit’s theme. Fazel Rahim is a Gender and Training Specialist based at our headquarters in Rockville, Maryland.

EnCompass Insights: Give us a hint about what you’ll discuss at the Gender 360 Summit.

Fazel Rahim: For my Lightning Talk on Monday, I will share a personal story from the time I was a young man in Afghanistan. It is a story that transformed my life and the lives of those around me. It made me the person I am today—an advocate for human rights, gender equality, and empowerment.

In Afghanistan, 50–60 percent of the population are youth. Encouraging that large segment of the population to be advocates and champions of gender equality and empowerment is crucial. I want to showcase what development projects and activities could do to engage and involve youth, and how.

Insights: How did your personal experience influence your career path?

I saw firsthand how my community’s gender norms and traditional practices negatively affected the lives of women and girls, and I felt disappointed. It seemed cruel. Therefore, I was inspired to find a career where I could work to achieve equality and empowerment and spark transformative change, while enabling others to do so, too.

After the collapse of the Taliban regime, I pursued a degree in law and started working with international human rights organizations. Through these experiences, I was exposed to international development work and activities focused on fighting harmful norms and customs.

Now, as Gender and Training Specialist at EnCompass, I support clients such as USAID and the United Nations to ensure their development interventions are gender inclusive and that they contribute to reducing the gender gap in communities they serve. This work contributes to positive boy and positive girl development by increasing access to education, health services, and justice to ensure equal participation in civil society—empowering them to be active members of our human community.

Insights: What do you hope people will take away from your session at the Gender 360 Summit?

I hope people will understand why engaging boys, as well as focusing on girls, in international development projects and activities is so important. We cannot leave out boys and girls who are a large portion of the population that can become champions and advocates for equality and empowerment, too.

EnCompass is a proud co-sponsor of the 2018 Gender 360 Summit, hosted by FHI 360. The summit will highlight innovations and produce action-oriented recommendations for how positive girl and boy development—across gender identity, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, and ability—can strengthen development outcomes. We hope to see you on June 11!