Keynote Speaker 2020

Dr. Lauryn Oates

Human Rights Activist, Champion of Education for Women in Conflict Zones, Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal Recipient

About the Speaker

In 1996, at age 14, Lauryn distributed a petition demanding world action on the treatment of women and girls by the Taliban. Today she is the Executive Director of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, a charity that has trained 10,000 teachers, and runs a network of village libraries and basic literacy classes for girls and women. Lauryn has also worked throughout the developing world, with UNICEF, USAID, WUSC, the Nike Foundation and others. She created the first online library for teachers in Afghanistan, Darakht-e Danesh (‘knowledge tree’), which was awarded a Presidential Citation by the American Library Association in 2018. Coverage of her work in Afghanistan has been featured in both national and international press.

The Globe & Mail named Lauryn as one of the 10 Canadians to watch in 2008, she was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Royal Roads University Leadership Award. Lauryn holds honour/master degrees in International Development Studies, Human Security and Peace Building and a PhD in Language and Literacy Education. She has twice been awarded a Social Science & Humanities Research Council award and currently teaches graduate students in the School of Humanitarian Studies at Royal Roads University.

Find out more about Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan and the work they do at