Fauzieh Kofi Speaking at the Frontline Club on 17 February

Fawzia Koofi will speak at the Frontline Club, London, on 17 February 2012

 

Fawzia Koofi speaking at the Frontline Club, London,  17th February 2012

Fawzia Koofi has been an MP in the Afghan Parliament since 2005.  After a career with the UN, she went on to become the first female Deputy Speaker in Afghanistan.  She has now announced her intention to run for President in the 2014 election, and believes that she has some chance of success.

Despite expressing some concerns that the election may not take place in 2014 due to security fears and the withdrawal of foreign troops, she says that many Afghans are ready for change and have seen for themselves how women have been effective in parliament.  It is women MP’s, according to Fawzia, who have been getting things done.

Her high profile role in politics has not been without it’s consequences and like other women leaders in Afghanistan, her life is regularly threatened.  She vividly described an occasion in 2010, when she hid in her car while it was shot at for around 20 minutes by, she believes, Taleban gunmen.  Two security men were killed that day and she always travels with several guards.

Fawzia was in London to talk about her book ‘The Favored Daughter’, a memoir of her life as the 19th of her father’s 23 children with 7 wives .  She tells how, as a newborn, she was left out in the sun to die by her mother, who was appalled at having given birth to a girl.  Somehow Fawzia survived into the next day and her family relented, bringing her back inside, badly burned by the sun.  She went on to become her mother’s favourite.

Her father was a local politician who was killed for standing up to local mujahideen when Fawzia was only 3 years old.  She has gone on to inherit his political mantle by engaging in a family election against  her brothers.  She now has their support, and one of her sisters  has also entered parliament in the 2010 elections.

Her intention in writing the book was to change the perception of ‘poor’ Afghan women as victims, to show how there are strong role models paving the way for change.  She believes change for women  will come with time, as men and women are educated.  She wants to see an increase in political awareness among the population of Afghanistan.

Fawzia’s main fear for the future is that the country  will once again slip into civil war.  She believes that a change of President in 2014 would bring hope.  But she also feels that entering talks with the Taleban is wrong, that this will not bring peace to the country since theirs is not an Afghan agenda, that they seek to destablise the country.

Fawzia’s book is punctuated with the letters she has written to her two daughters each time she travels away from home in case she never returns.  She accepts the danger to her life, believing that if you die paving the way for change, it is worth it.  She writes the letters because she would like her daughters to carry on her legacy.

 

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