Mabila Mursalova graduated from the Community Action Training (CAT) course in 2018 and was also engaged in the fellowship program. Soon after, she went to study at Lund University in Sweden. She is pursuing a masters degree in development studies. “It is related to what we were doing in the CAT programme. All of us trying to save the world as we can”, said Mabila, connecting her studies with the CAT program. She believes that it will support her a lot in her social activism later.
Despite her tight schedule, she manages to carry out volunteer work in a student’s organization. She is actively engaged in the civic actions carried out by the organization. “For some personal reasons, there was a risk to be a more active activist and to work openly in Baku. But here I am trying to participate openly and without any fear in demonstrations or other civic actions.”
Although Mabila faced limitations with expressing herself back home, she initiated a very successful online campaign called “What do Others Say?!” (https://www.womenstories.online/) as a CAT fellow. The campaign aimed at raising awareness about the limitations women are facing in Azerbaijan.
It gave the possibility to motivated women to share their stories and confront discriminatory reality.
“Before the CAT Programme, I was working in an NGO in Baku, but I did not have enough knowledge to work in the field. Therefore, CAT was the turning point in my working process. As part of the program, I gained knowledge and most importantly managed to write and implement the project for the first time independently. It turned out to be quite a valuable experience.” Since the project started, the web platform has published and featured 56 stories from 56 women. As these women share their stories, they are also finding the courage to fight against restrictions.
“Through this project implementation, I further learned that asking for help shouldn’t be hard. During my project application, a lot of people were willing to help me without seeking any economic or social benefits for them. Even though the project was meant to be an individual process, other people contributed a lot. In the end, it became teamwork.” After two years, the platform is still running, and new stories keep coming from women. Mabila is considering to scale up the action. “I have not given up the idea. Maybe I will make an improved version of the project and implement it later.”
After completing her studies, Mabila plans to work in Europe and sees herself in the field of human rights protection and advocacy. “I want to work in an NGO; I will try to work and help my country from here”.