Hajer Sharief is a Libyan peace and human rights activist. She founded “Together We Build It”, to promote the building of peace in Libya and the respect of human rights. Sharief is one of UN Women’s 12 Champions on Women, Peace and Security, and Human Rights, and she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019. Sharief is a member of the Extremely Together Young Leaders initiative, appointed by Kofi Annan and the Kofi Annan Foundation and in 2020, Forbes named her as one of “Africa’s 50 Most Powerful Women”.
Hajer Sharief was born in Libya in 1992 and she graduate in law at the Tripoli Law School. In 2011, at the age of 19, Sharief co-founded the organization “Together We Build It”, as a response to the violence of the Libyan civil war. The organization aims to support a peaceful transition for Libya, building on intergenerational understanding, promoting peace and the respect of human rights. Alongside leading the organization, Sharief built various projects to promote human rights, women and youth peace and security, and international human rights law in Libya.
In 2013 Sharief established the “1325 Network” in Libya. This network connects thirty cities across Libya to raise grassroots awareness and encourage women and young women to play an active role in the context of peace-building and prevention of violent extremism.
As a young peace activist, Sharief joined the United Network of Young Peacebuilders advocacy team to advocate the United Nations Security Council to adopt a Resolution recognizing the vital role of youth in peacebuilding and conflict resolution. Sharief was appointed by the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-Moon, to work within a group of experts in order to further develop Resolution 2250, the first thematic resolution on youth, peace, and security. She is also part of the network “Extremely Together”, supported by the Kofi Annan Foundation, which is a program that brings together ten young innovators from around the world, whose mission is to find positive preventive measures against violent extremism among young people. Sharief was tasked with drafting a chapter on human rights and young people.
In 2017, Sharief was announced by UN Women as one of their 12 Champions on Women, Peace and Security and Human Rights, because of her work on emerging issues for peace and security, and as an advocate for gender equality and women’s human rights in conflict-affected settings. In 2017, Hajer was also awarded the Student Peace Prize in Norway for her contribution to the inclusion of women in peacebuilding processes. In 2019 she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, alongside Ilwad Elman, a fellow member of “Extremely Together”.
As an activist, Sharief has work mainly on peace and security and human rights. The experience of seeing the 2011 war in Libya has made her realize the importance of empowering and encouraging women and youth from grassroots to participate in peacebuilding and conflict resolution and prevention. Since then, she has been actively advocating at different levels for women’s and youth inclusion in peacebuilding processes. Because of her personal experience, she became a symbol to encourage people, especially young people, to play an active role in building a standing peace in Libya. She declare of herself that she is a full-time war survivor and starting from this quote Sharief wrote a peace talk at the Oxford Peace Talks titled “As a full-time war survivor. What is missing in conflict zones?”. During many of her speeches, Sharief argued that peacebuilding in conflict areas would not be successful without women and young people’s full participation. Alongside her activism for peace and human rights, Sharief is an advocate for political rights and political participation.
Written by WAVE intern Diva Adelaide Edosini
Hajer Sharief – Kofi Annan Foundation
Hajer Sharief – NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security (womenpeacesecurity.org)