The first Afghan women to do postgraduate studies at Oxford, Shaharzad completed an MPhil in Development Studies in 2011 with the aim of making a sustainable and significant impact on education and economic empowerment in Afghan society.
She wants to complement her practical experience with the necessary analytical framework to assess the areas of Afghanistan where NGO work is less effective or lacking altogether. Shaharzad has worked on projects with several high profile organisations, including Human Rights Watch, UNIFEM and the Afghan-Pak Joint Peace Jirga. She has also been developing journalistic skills, writing for a number of Afghan publications, and reporting for BBC Dari.
Shaharzad is currently Country Director, Open Society Afghanistan, Open Society Foundations and a Chairperson of the civic and political movement Afghanistan 1400, a youth-led political movement to mobilize youth around democratic values and an idea of Afghanistan as a united country.