Arsla Jawaid talks to Fawzia Koofi, the woman who could be Afghanistan’s first female president, in this exclusive interview . A democracy activist, Fawzia Koofi is Afghanistan’s first female deputy speaker of the Parliament. Author of the recent book, “
Can you tell me a little bit about your background and why you decided to go into politics?
I was born in a political family. My father was a very outspoken Member of Parliament during King Shah’s rule and was elected to the parliament four times. He was killed and later my four brothers were also killed. Growing up in a family that paid a high price for being in politics, I automatically chose to enter the field. More than that, the experiences, injustice and discrimination faced by Afghan women, during different governments and particularly during Taliban time, gave me the determination and reason to fight for change. That is why I decided to enter politics in 2005 when there was the first ever parliament after 30 years of war and conflict. Can you shed some light on the work you have done as the first female deputy speaker of the Afghan parliament and a twice elected Afghan MP?
Yes, this is my second term. When I first came in 2005, I was elected as the first ever female deputy speaker of the Afghan parliament. The challenges for a female politician all over the world are insurmountable. Being in a traditional country like Afghanistan where women were not seen in politics before, the challenges are even greater. You have to start changes from the very basic. My focus has been to further women’s education, health and job creation and introduce changes and reforms in the system. As a result, we are currently working on a law addressing violence against women. In many ways, we have made some good progress. At the end of the day, you have to pave the way for others. It is obviously very difficult for a woman to enter politics in Afghanistan. Do you think the people of Afghanistan are ready for a female head of state?
I ran for parliament twice and in both terms I secured enough votes based on general voting. I think this in itself is very promising. I come from a rural area and to compete with men requires some strong will power. Last