Payzee Mahmod is a British Kurd and passionate survivor activist tackling gender based violence.
Payzee is most recognised for her bold advocacy and campaigning to raise awareness about and to end harmful practices including child marriage, FGM, virginity testing and hymenoplasty.
Payzee draws on her own lived experiences & the loss of her sister Banaz, in a so called ‘honour’ killing. But her story, one of pain and danger, is all too common for millions of girls around the world. After being forced into a child marriage aged 16, Payzee lead the 3 year long campaign to change the legal age of marriage from 16 to 18, in England and Wales (Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Bill, 2023).
A quarter of a million people signed Payzee’s petition and offered her their support, to urge the Government to criminalise all forms of child marriage. Payzee has appeared in influential interviews across TV and radio channels, her impact far reaching; nationally and globally. Since making worldwide news, she now uses her platform to spread awareness on “honour” based abuse, child marriage and promoting the importance of gender inclusion and raising money for good causes. With a lifelong mission to ensure that all children are protected against the harms of child marriage, Payzee now works with IKWRO – Women’s rights organisation and other NGOs to bring these topics to the forefront and help break down the barriers and taboos.
By speaking out boldly against these taboo topics, Payzee has broken the silence and empowers crucial conversations and actions to reject violence against women and girls within the MENA diaspora and beyond, tackling cultural relativism, racism and discrimination including from government policies. Payzee is regularly called upon to share her experiences and expertise nationally and internationally, with government, academics, media and professionals and she is a member of Girls Not Brides Advisory Committee and sits on several Boards.
Payzee is a 3 time TEDx speaker and her first TEDX talk 'A Survivor's Plea to end Child Marriage' has been viewed more than a million times. Payzee is a seasoned speaker who empowers women to stand up for their rights, growing up as a young woman in Iran she suffered discrimination and her eye-opening talks during events act as an inspiration to all in the audience. Able to use her personal accounts to support great change, Payzee shares actionable strategies with corporate audiences to improve awareness and response policies in professional environments.
Payzee's advocacy has resulted in her being named UK Parliament Volunteer of the Year 2021 and she was also celebrated with special recognition at the UN Women UK Awards 2020. In 2022 Payzee was selected to take part in a 6 months programme with The Obama Foundation’s Europe Leaders Programme.
As well as advocating for and supporting women and girls directly, Payzee offers advice and training for professionals from the statutory and voluntary sectors, including; schools and all education providers, police, social services, healthcare providers and housing services to better understand the needs of the women and girls from MENA communities, the types of abuse they experience and to provide best practice and support services.
Payzee has supported schools and colleges by providing workshops to students on healthy relationships and harmful practices to try to combat abuse within families and future relationships by raising awareness on these issues and ensuring all students know how to stay safe if they or others are at risk. Payzee has taken part in Oxford University’s ‘Story Night’ lectures to share her own lived experience and to inspire others to story tell, as well as ensuring that graduating students are equipped with knowledge on how to protect those at risk of harmful practices and how to respond safely.
Payzee can share lessons from her lived experiences and provides bespoke training sessions which are tailored to the needs of your organisation, on the harmful practices of “honour” based abuse, forced marriage, child marriage, female genital mutilation and domestic abuse so professionals can have an increased understanding of harmful practices, be able to identify the signs and symptoms of harmful practices, be more confident in responding to cases of harmful practices and have an increased knowledge of support available in responding to cases of harmful practices.