Motivation and inspiration to lead change

JST values inspire human rights lawyer

Dilfuza is a human rights lawyer, consultant and civic activist from Uzbekistan. She works for the International Commission of Jurists and the World Bank’s citizen engagement project. She is also part of Uzbekistan’s TEDxMustaqillikSquare team.

Dilfuza aims to help promote international standards in economic, social and cultural rights in Uzbekistan. She hopes to do this by improving citizen engagement with local authorities.

“I lead the citizen engagement project in Uzbekistan,” she says. “I look into the processes, mechanisms and tools of how the government is meeting with people and how people are taking part in the decision-making process.’

‘In my country we have established many tools and governing mechanisms, but at some point in the process – the parts are not all working together. So, for me it is important to understand where the block is and how to remove this to make communication between the government and the people easier.”

When Dilfuza was in the UK as a JST Fellow, she focused on learning more about the processes UK local authorities use to ensure sustained citizen engagement at all stages of the policy cycle.

“I am a human rights lawyer,” she explains. “Rule of law is not only obedience to the law. It’s not just about laws on paper. It’s about values: human rights are about dignity, freedom, respect for each other, respect for other people.’

“My specialty is social rights. Social rights are all about our right to education, right to health care, right to freedom of expression, right to freedom of religion. All core values and core rights are social justice.”

“This is one of the things that made me choose the John Smith Trust Fellowship Programme. I felt – and I feel, now at the end of the programme – that all our meetings, all our sessions, were about good governance, rule of law, social justice. These are the John Smith Trust’s core values. Every time we had a meeting, every speaker was talking about transparency, accountability, and working with people and for the people. These are not just the Trust’s values; they are also my core values that I am trying to spread in my home country.”

“Before I came, I was thinking – no I won’t go into politics, no I won’t become a judge. But here at JST, they are saying – yes you can do this. Why don’t you run become a judge? Why don’t you run for parliament? You can do it. You must do it.”