Maria Rosario Lazzati Niada Scholarship for Afghan Women

The postgraduate scholarship in memory of Maria Rosario Lazzati Niada (18.03.1954–02.02.2022) has been established to help talented Afghan women with a university degree to improve their knowledge in international relations and development. Successful applicants will enrol in a two-year master programme from the Geneva Graduate Institute.

Maria Rosario was a high school history and literature teacher. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from the State University of Milan with a degree in the History of Christianity. She focused on the woman’s condition and her thesis on witchcraft evolved into a book, written with two other historians (S. Abbiati, A. Agnoletto, M. R. Lazzati, La Stregoneria, Mondadori, 1984). Focusing on persecutions between the 13th and 17th century that led to the mass murder of tens of thousands of women in Europe accused of witchcraft, the book, based on ancient trial documents, is still a reference text.

In 2005, Maria Rosario was a driving force in establishing a charity in Afghanistan focusing on women’s education: the Comitato Arghosha Faraway Schools. Since then, the organisation has funded the construction of 15 schools for 8,000 pupils from grades 1 to 12. The majority of the pupils (5,500) are girls; 10 schools were built to host girls exclusively who had little to no access to educational structures. The organisation has also supported literacy courses for 500 adult women and 28 university scholarships for talented girls in different universities in Kabul. Until 2019, when Covid paralysed international mobility, Maria Rosario visited Afghanistan every year to assess the project’s implementation around the country and plan future initiatives.

Given the present situation in Afghanistan, with strong restrictions to women’s higher education, the master programmes at the Geneva Graduate Institute aim to broaden the reach of Afghan women’s university education abroad, giving them a competitive advantage in the global community. A master could provide access to an academic and diplomatic career, a job in international and non-governmental organisations, or in international corporate companies.

Applications for this scholarship are closed.

Credit Image: @Aman Sedaqat