Harvard University/Harvard Law School
Countries: New Zealand, Iraq, and USA
SDGs: Quality Education
As an Ambassador, I want to facilitate young changemakers from around the globe coming together so that we can come up with innovative and diverse solutions to some of the biggest challenges we are facing today.
Rez Gardi is a human rights lawyer and activist. She was born in a United Nations refugee camp in Pakistan as her Kurdish family escaped persecution in their homeland of Kurdistan.
When her family was resettled in New Zealand, Rez sought to use her difficult start in life as motivation to succeed, becoming New Zealand’s first Kurdish female lawyer. She is currently a Fulbright Scholar studying a Master of Laws at Harvard Law School.
She is passionate about supporting young refugees and believes education is pivotal to changing the future for refugees. She is the founder of ‘Empower’ – a youth-led organization to empower and enable refugee youth through education, leadership, and capacity-building aligning with the Goal of Quality Education so that young refugees can pursue a meaningful future.
Empower provides a mentoring initiative to address the underrepresentation of refugees in higher education and provides workshops to foster participation, leadership, and empowerment opportunities for young refugees. Rez is also working on projects with refugee youth in camps across Uganda and Kenya to find innovative ways to access education because there simply aren’t enough schools to accommodate all the youth in the camps.
She was awarded the Young New Zealander of the Year in 2017 for her services to human rights and was recognized as an Eisenhower Youth Fellow in 2018. She was also a Women of Influence Finalist and NEXT Woman of the Year Finalist.
Rez represented New Zealand in the first ever Global Refugee Youth Consultations and helped form the Global Youth Advisory Council to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.