We’d like to share the stories of influential women both past and present. Their desire to affect change in this world by taking action is what makes them worthy of our respect. Each month we’d like to feature a specific woman or group of women who have inspired us with their bravery and willingness to challenge the status quo.
I (Bryce) first heard about Fawzia Koofi when I saw her on The Daily Show discussing her book The Favored Daughter, and I was completely blown away by what this woman has experienced and is trying to do in her native country of Afghanistan. For the month of April, Fawzia Koofi is the featured female of OAM’s series Woman Of Action!
Because she was born a girl, Fawzia Koofi was left to die. Her mother had suffered so much and did not wish that for her child. She was put outside in the sun right after she was born, but she survived to fight another day. For many more days, in fact. Her father was a prominent political figure as a respected member of parliament, but he beat Fawzia’s mother. “For an Afghan woman…her life is full of struggle.”
In her life, Koofi has also learned what it means to struggle. Growing up, she witnessed people being beaten in the street by the Taliban. Her father was assassinated by mujahideen and her husband died of tuberculosis in a Taliban prison. All four of her brothers were also killed. But she has survived multiple assassination attempts. One such attempt came after celebrating International Women’s Day in 2010, when the Taliban assaulted her convoy for 30 minutes while she was riding with her family and body guards.
Koofi is the first woman in her family to be educated. Initially, she went to school to be a doctor, but she later went on to study political science. Before getting elected to Parliament in 2005, Koofi was employed by UNICEF as a child-protection officer from 2002 through 2004. Now, she Afghanistan’s first female parliament speaker. “Parliament is a place where you can raise your voice even if you can’t make change.”
One must wonder, in the face of such oppression and hardship, why stay? Well, she sees herself as “an agent of change.” “I could come to Europe or the US…or I could stay back in my country and try to contribute to a small change if I can.” But her sights are not set on a small change. She has big plans for her future. In 2014, she plans to run for president of Afghanistan! She is running on a platform of equal rights for women, promoting universal education and the opposition to political corruption.
If you want to see the full interview from The Daily Show, click on the link below!