Hezha MohammedKhan

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Hezha MohammedKhan
هێژا محمد خان
Hezha MohammedKhan.JPG
Hezha Hassan MohammedKhan

(1991-06-13) June 13, 1991 (age 30)
Sulaymaniyah Iraq
NationalityKurdish Iraqi
  • Tilburg University, Netherlands
  • University of Sulaimani, Iraq
  • * PhD Candidate & Researcher at the Zero Hunger Lab
  • *Humanitarian
  • * Youth activist and Feminist in MENA
Years active2008 - present
  • APC for Youth Empowerment
  • Shughel Shabab
  • Unspoken Smiles Foundation

Hezha Hassan MohammedKhan Al Jaf (born June 13th 1991), professionally known as Hezha MohammedKhan هێژا محمد خان is a PhD candidate and researcher at the Zero Hunger Lab at Tilburg University.[1] Hezha is a Humanitarian, youth and gender activist. She is the founder of the American Private Center, an institute for economically disadvantaged teenagers, that focuses on offering skill management and other services to help the youth get jobs in Iraq, the organization was active between 2012 and 2018.[2] She is also the co-founder of the Shughel Shabab, a regional youth initiative in partnership with UNDP and UNESCO Regional office that promotes UNSCR 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security.

Hezha is also an AMENDS fellow and a TEDx speaker.[3] She speaks at conferences and industry events on the topics of women and youth empowerment.[4] Hezha has been often praised for her conversational style that uplifts and inspires people.

Hezha has been featured in several media outlets for her contribution in the upliftment of the society such as Tilburg University Magazine, Youth At Heart, Global Young Voices, International Women Series, HuffPost and others.

Early life and education

Hezha MohammedKhan was born on June 13th, 1991 in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, right after the uprising of the Kurdistan region of Iraq and grew up during the Iraqi Kurdish Civil War. Her father was a teacher, and her mother was a housewife, together with her 5 siblings they lived in Sulaimaniyah. The 90s were days of extreme poverty in Northern Iraq and Hezha’s family was no exception.

Hezha Attended Najmadin Mala Primary Highschool from 1997 to 2003, and moved on to private schooling from 2003 due to her outstanding performance at school. Hezha traveled outside Iraq for the first time in 2008, participating in the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program, attending courses at UCLA and visiting major Government offices in Washington DC. After returning from the program, she volunteered with local and international organizations focusing on community development and child labor until 201. She later pursued her Bachelor degree at the University of Sulaimani in 2015. Hezha Moved to the Netherlands in 2019 to continue her higher education at Tilburg University, where she did Pre Master in CSAI, Master of Science in Data Science and PhD in the same field.


Hezha started her career when she was in college. Initially, she launched a leadership training course for people with an impairment with a grant that was offered by the U.S. Department of State. In 2012, she also established the American Private Center, an institute for economically disadvantaged teenagers facilitating skill management and other activities in order to help them find jobs easier in Iraq, the organization was active between 2012 and 2018.

She also enrolled in courses and took part in multiple workshops at various organizations. After her graduation, MohammedKhan began participating in international conferences as a speaker and enrolling in training courses such as UNESCO Youth. She was also a peer mentor at the International Youth Assembly in New York in 2017 and 2018.[5]

When MohammedKhan was 17, she was selected to take part in a month-long Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program.[6] As a part of this program, MohammedKhan participated in voluntary work for USAID and relief international, working on a campaign to raise awareness of civil rights in Kurdistan.[7]

In 2015, MohammedKhan joined Qaiwan Group, one of the biggest private sectors in Iraq, where she worked for two years, specializing in business and professional development. Soon after her exit, MohammedKhan became an advisor at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.[8] During her time there, MohammedKhan ran a social innovation lab for skills development programs for refugee youth.[9]

Between 2015 and 2018, she was engaged with several organizations, she was president Elect of the US Exchanges Alumni Association for one year, Country Representative for Unspoken Smiles Foundation, for which she was later on promoted to leadership council member. She also served as a consultant for EMR consultancy firm on project monitoring and evaluation.

In 2018, Hezha spent several months in Berlin working on a Migrant research Project, then returned to Iraq and joined The Migrant Project in North Iraq as a consultant, and later on the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) as a business offer, working on business startup grants for young people.

Hezha is currently a researcher at Zero Hunger Lab - Tilburg School of Economics and Management. She is also the co-founder of the Shughel Shabab, a youth initiative that started in Arab states in partnership with the UNDP and UNESCO Regional office that promotes UNSCR 2250. The Shughel Shabab Campaign organizes events across the Middle East to encourage young people to be involved in peacebuilding, and fight violent extremism. In 2020, Shughel Shabab and AMENDS global fellows received a grant from the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs to run an extensive skill building program for young leaders in MENA region.[10]

As an advocate for Youth and Women, Hezha is constantly fighting for the basic rights of women and youth in Iraq.[11] Her message to young women is that, if they want, they can have it all. She believes women can have a successful career, alongside taking other roles in life such as a good wife and a loving mother for their kids.

Personal life

Hezha MohammedKhan is married since 2015 and has one child. She is fluent in Kurdish, English, Arabic and Turkish.


Hezha received her M.Sc. from Tilburg University in 2020.[12] Her master thesis about predicting body shape dimensions for the purpose of detecting malnutrition was in partnership with the Zero Hunger Lab and Welthungerhife’s child growth monitor project. She has decided to continue with research on data science for social good when she officially joined the Zero Hunger Lab as a researcher in October 2020, and an external PhD with Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences. The core scientific value of her research is recruiting deep neural networks to perform prediction tasks on 2D images.

Training and certificates

  • DesigningInnovative Business Models TU Berlin 2016
  • TOT from Danish Refugee Council on Business Management skills 2018.
  • 35 hours BMI certified course on Project Management, AUIS 2017.
  • Several courses by Mercy Corps and Mercy Hands organizations on good governance, conflict management and community mobilization in support of my role as president of the Iraqi Alumni Association, 2016

International engagements and conferences

  • Women Deliver 2019 – Responsible for hosting Satellite events on gender in Iraq.
  • Panelist in the 5th World forum on Intercultural Dialogue in Baku May 2019[13]
  • Iraq and Middle east representative, Validation Consultation on Youth Peace and Security, UN HeadQuarters, November 2017.
  • Youth Delegate at the 10th UNESCO Youth Forum, Re-thinking Youth engagement
  • TEDx speaker at first TEDx conference in Duhok, Iraqi Kurdistan Region, August 2017.[14]
  • Peer Mentor at the International Youth assembly at the United Nations HeadQuarters, New York 2017 and 2018.
  • AMENDS 2017 Fellow – Gave a Ted Style talk at Oxford University in Oxford, UK.
  • International Speaker at the 2016 Seychelles Youth Festival and sustainable Development goals conference.
  • Participant at the Youth Peace and Security Consultation in the Arab states, Amman, Jordan.


  • APC for youth Empowerment - founder and former director
  • Shughel Shabab - co founder
  • Zero Hunger Lab - Researcher
  • Amends Global Fellows - Fellow class of 2017[15]
  • Tiburg University - Alumna
  • Unspoken Smiles foundation- Leadership Council and former Iraq country representative

Hezha MohammedKhan in the media



  1. "Inspirational Woman Interview: Hezha M. Khan". Inspirational Women Series. 12 May 2017. Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  2. Laurent, Jean Paul; Foundation, CEO of Unspoken Smiles (11 September 2016). "Youth Assembly at the United Nations: The Place Where Young Global Leaders Come to Become Brilliant Leaders". HuffPost. Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  3. Zaken, Ministerie van Buitenlandse (21 October 2020). "Program "Equipping Young Peacemakers" will train young leaders - News item - Youthatheart". www.youthatheart.nl. Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  4. "Hezha Mohammed Khan, an offline influencer | Tilburg University". www.tilburguniversity.edu. Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  5. "Youth focuses on Sustainable Development Goals - Archive - Seychelles Nation". www.nation.sc. Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  6. "Log into Facebook". Facebook. Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  7. "Hezha Mohammed Khan". UNESCO. Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  8. "Social Ventures for Sustainable Development: Fairleigh Dickinson University hosts pre-Youth Assembly seminars". GLOBAL YOUNG VOICES. Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  9. Excellence, Women of (22 August 2017). "Hezha Mohammed Khan". The Women of Excellence Series. Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  10. "researchgate". Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  11. "Hezha Mohammedkhan". Tilburg University Research Portal. Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  12. "Hezha Mohammed Khan, an offline influencer | Tilburg University". www.tilburguniversity.edu. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  13. "Youth Countering Hate Speech and Discrimination at 5th Baku Forum". GCED Clearinghouse (in español). 13 May 2019. Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  14. "TEDxDuhok | TED". www.ted.com. Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  15. "Equipping Young Peacemakers – AMENDS Global Fellows". Retrieved 19 February 2021.

External links

Hezha MohammedKhan on LinkedIn