British Member of Parliament and chairman of AMAR Foundation, Baroness Emma Nicholson, addressed BYU faculty and students at the Tuesday Sept. 22, 2015 forum.
Nicholson spoke about the history of her family members that had run for Parliament. She explained she was a little disappointed to find that there were no women that had run for such position of office. She said she then realized that it wasn’t so much the women in her family who didn’t want to run for office, but that they were prohibited from doing so.
She explained that at the time all women in Britain were fighting for the right to vote. Nicholson said her grandmother was brave enough to stand up for women’s rights in this time of political uneasiness.
“She stood boldly, clad in demurest black with gloves and a hat with a veil,” Nicholson said. “She was holding up a vast banner which read ‘Votes for Women’. So it wasn’t that the women in my family were not interested in politics; they surely were, but the opportunity to serve directly was wholly denied to them as it was to all other women at the time.”
Nicholson decided to follow her grandmother’s example of bravery and traveled around the world to become more involved in improving the lives of those not just in Britain, but in the surrounding countries. This included the lives of refugees from Syria, Iran and Iraq fleeing their dangerous circumstances.
“My purpose was to help the thousands upon thousands of people, men, women and children, streaming out of Iraq, some dying and all desperate, ” Nicholson said, “To rebuild lives dominated by genocide and discrimination was my purpose.”
As chairman of AMAR Foundation, Nicholson travels the world searching for ways to resolve the conflicts of those struggling in their current circumstances. At this time she is focusing on refugees from Syria and Iraq. Nicholson described the food and medical aid that came to thousands of people through the building of first class hospitals funded by American money. She also spoke about the many medical professionals or medical in training there to help restore peace and health into the lives of these people.
Nicholson told the tragic story of a girl found in the midst of human trafficking. A victim of ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), an extremist militant group that had begun to terrorize Iraq. She told how the Yazidi girl was trapped in the conditions of captivity with several aggressive and violent men who raped her countless times. On several occasions her sister also endured the same treatment. Finally, after months of imprisonment, Nicholson said the girl escaped with her life.
“Her great success was to remain alive, first to survive through months of rape by countless males,” Nicholson said, “After some months, she dared to flee into the dark night of unknown terrors, and there by saved her life.
Nicholson captured her ambition to persevere and better the conditions of the struggling around her as she quoted the words of Britain’s beloved Queen.
“‘When life seems hard, the courageous do not accept defeat; instead, they are all the more determined to struggle for a better future,'” Nicholson quoted.
Nicholson spoke to the students of the impact their education at BYU at the end of her address.
“Professionally, I am confident that with BYU behind you, your futures will all succeed, ” Nicholson said. “Your own happiness and future success as individual and as family achievers will rest upon your nurturing of the common good in all that you choose to do.”