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Fawzia Koofi      

Afghani Women's Rights Activist, Member of Parliament, Vice President of the National Assembly.

Fawzia Koofi has made her leadership journey in a country of harsh topography, internal conflict, intermittent wars and a militant government. She completed high school during the war ravaged years and entered a competitive medical school. But soon after the Taliban took over in September 1995, they barred women from access to all education. Finding the doors of a university education closed to her, Fawzia focused her energy towards women’s right organizations and worked closely with one of the most vulnerable groups, Internally Displaced People (IDP), which marginalizes women and children.

After the fall of the Taliban, she continued law faculty night shift while still working with UNICEF, though her wish was to become a doctor and treat human beings who are in desperate need of medical assistance due to war and its consequences. She is particularly passionate about women, as her country has highest number of maternal mortalities in the world. Out of 100,000 births, 6,500 women die due to lack of access to medical facilities and doctors.

Despite her yearning to become a doctor, she shifted her studies to law, acquired a law degree and later pursued a Masters in Business and Management from Preston University.

Since 2001, women could participate in all aspects of life, particularly in the public sphere. Fawzia’s political family background and orientation to public service propelled her to take hold of these new opportunities that were paving the road for many women. She decided to run for a seat in parliament from the Badakshan province, a northeastern province. Her campaign was a success, and she was elected member of parliament from that province in September 2005. Afghan parliament is assigned with three main responsibilities, according to the Afghan constitution. Her duties are to represent the people, makes laws and oversee the executive branch.

In 2005, right after the first elected parliament after 33 years, Fawzia was elected as the first woman Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament in the history of Afghanistan.

Fawzia's main focus area has been human rights, especially women’s and child rights. Afghanistan also suffers from rampant corruption, and she has been advocating for integrity, accountability and upholding the rule of law. With all the challenges, the fact she managed to make her presence felt in parliament by participating in debates, initiating legislation and suggesting resolutions is a giant leap for women in Afghanistan. Some of the key women’s initiatives that she has championed include the improvement of women’s living conditions in Afghan prisons.

She also advocates for amendment of laws that suggests savior punishment for perpetrators of child sexual abuse. She promotes women and girls' education by advocating for access to good schools, as well as creating opportunities for nonformal education.

As a young woman in a heavily traditional country, Fawzia has battled male domination, imposition of men’s selective religious interpretation on the rights of women and issues of power between men and women.

Fawzia has been re-elected for a second term in parliament and is now the chairperson of the women/human rights civil society commission. She is the only woman chairperson in the lower of parliament.

She is the author of "Letters To My Daughters," a bestseller in many countries around the world.


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