Minds of the Movement

An ICNC blog on the people and power of civil resistance

Mariam Azeem

Mariam Azeem possesses nearly fifteen years of experience and expertise in the field of education, training, and coaching for nonviolent civil resistance, human rights, women’s leadership, and movement building. She supports and facilitates youth, women, and gender and sexual minorities in advancing their narratives of human rights and justice.

Ms. Azeem served at Rhize as the Director of Movement Support and Learning for half a decade (2018-2023). She is onboard as a trainer for various organizations and platforms, including, but not limited to, the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC), Inclusive Global Leadership Institute, Forum for Dignity Initiative and Solidarity 2020 and Beyond.

A certified human rights educator with the Council of Europe since 2010, Ms. Azeem spearheaded a national human rights education program in collaboration with the Human Rights Ministry of Pakistan, SIDA, and a national youth organization. This program encompassed 41 districts of Pakistan, including Azad and Jammu Kashmir.

Further developing her skills through the Equitas fellowship program in 2012, Ms. Azeem played a pivotal role in drafting Pakistan’s first-ever transgender human rights bill, recently passed by parliament. Her dedication to coaching and nonformal and popular education techniques has benefitted marginalized communities across Pakistan and globally.

In 2013, Ms. Azeem became an alumni of the ICNC’s flagship summer institute, completing a weeklong training on nonviolent civil resistance and movement building. This experience significantly impacted her career trajectory. Her subsequent participation in the Global Change Leaders program at St. Francis Xavier University’s Coady Institute in 2014 further honed her expertise in nonviolent conflict and the concept of people power.

A seasoned civil resistance trainer, Ms. Azeem's coaching focuses on nonviolent conflict resolution and fostering participatory citizenship and accountable democracy. In 2016, with support from ICNC’s Learning Initiative Network program, she initiated the first-ever yearlong training series on nonviolent civil resistance and movement building in Pakistan. This program aimed to introduce and promote the understanding and importance of deep democracy, participatory citizenship, and the phenomenon of people power within the country.

As a certified trauma-informed grief coach, Ms. Azeem recognizes the profound impact of personal stories and past and present experiences on learning. This understanding translates into holistic curriculum design that prioritizes the learner’s journey and embraces collective community care.

Inclusion, humor, transparency, and resilience are the core values that underpin Ms. Azeem’s work and life. She is a firm believer in people power and invests her energy in learning and applying relevant theories and practices in her coaching, education, and training endeavors.

Writings from Mariam Azeem


Ideas & Trends

From Grievance to Funding to Capacity Building: Insights from Movement Coaches

One movement coach I interviewed traced the ideal path from grievance to funding to capacity building. Although many readers will already be in the thick of organizing and fundraising, I thought it would still be helpful to share this model as a way to ground our thinking around movement capacity building. In a perfect world, a group would navigate the following steps: 1) Make a grievance known in your community to help form a critical mass of participants (this can be as few as 5 or 10 people). Take necessary security measures. […]

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Ideas & Trends

Recruiting Movement Trainers and Developing Training Content

Last year, I read Hardy Merriman’s blog posts about civil resistance training and activists’ common questions about training, and so much rang true to me. I am a fan of learning theories around movement support work and in-field tools and practices used by coaches and activists. Hardy’s posts inspired me to gather in-field experiences of movement coaches and share them with larger audiences. I asked the coaches: How do we find trainers and resource persons? And, how do we decide what kind of content the training participants will need? […]

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Movement Commentary

The Aurat March and Pakistan’s Struggle for Women’s Rights

Women’s rights have been on the social agenda in Pakistan for years, but the media largely ignored it until recently. Journalists have become more independent over the past few years, coinciding with the emergence of the Women’s March in the United States and around the world. These marches inspired Pakistani women to finally take action for their rights. Pakistan’s Aurat March (“aurat” means “women” in Urdu) saw its debut on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2018. […]

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Movement Commentary

Part Two: A Civil Resistance Trainer’s Story, and Takeaways for Educators

In my previous blog post, I shared with you my personal journey to becoming a civil resistance trainer and outlined a few takeaways about effective training approaches. In this post, I expand on those takeaways, which I hope civil resistance trainers in other parts of the world can use to improve their work. […]

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Interviews & People

A Civil Resistance Trainer’s Story, and Takeaways for Educators (Part 1)

Over the past few years, I have been working as a civil resistance trainer and educator in various parts of Pakistan including Azad and Jammu Kashmir. At times, my work to spread knowledge about civil resistance for human rights, peace, and democracy has brought me to cross red lines drawn by patriarchal principles in Pakistani society (and so many other places in the world). […]

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