Maryam Faghihimani is the founder and president of the Centre for Cultural Diplomacy and Development, which promotes democracy and tolerance and provides a platform for youth and women in the Middle East. Faghihimani also works with the World Education Foundation, focusing on increasing sustainable development opportunities for communities in the Global South. She advances women’s rights in the Middle East and elsewhere through increased support for entrepreneurship. Faghihimani is the vice president of partnership for the international network of Professional Women in Norway (PWN).
She was born and raised in Iran as a daughter of one of the most prominent ayatollahs, a close friend of Ayatollah Khomeini. After being repeatedly denied education and work because of her gender and secular-liberal thoughts, in 2002 she left Iran. In spite of her father's demands, Faghihimani has pursued an academic career in Europe focused on human rights, cultural diplomacy, sustainable development, and in particular women's rights.