‘I’ve come a long way passing many challenges, trials and sorrows along the road. From my humble beginnings as an outspoken female child in a misogynist society that did not value the female voice, to a voice for the vulnerable, defenceless and victimized community of women in Afghanistan today. My struggle began the day I was born”, Fawzia Koofi, (2009).
Afghan’s inspiring new presidential candidate for the 2014 elections is a woman. However, she is no ordinary woman. She was left to die out in the sun when she was born, an unwanted female infant and the 19th of 23 children in a traditional polygamous family. She was born into the rural mountainous regions of Afghanistan, isolated from Kabul and education. Afghani rebels left her mother to fend for herself after they killed Koofi’s father and grandfather. Despite the obstacles, adversaries, and two assassination attempts she has faced throughout her life, she continues to campaign without fear. Fawzia Koofi’s driving motivation is to live in a country where her daughters are “respected as human beings,” (2012). The concept of a woman in power would be revolutionizing in Afghanistan, a country whose’ women have suffered in silence for centuries. Finally, there would be a female approach to issues such as honour killings. Finally, a woman would be able to speak up against the tradition of imprisoning girls who have been raped.
Most importantly, there would be a woman in the decision-making processes for peace and stability. A root cause for so many women’s rights abuses in the Middle East and North Africa, an issue we discussed with classmates earlier this week, is the misinterpretation of Islamic Sharia law. As a Muslim herself, Koofi also campaigns for bringing a new, more balanced interpretation of Sharia law, stating, “there has been a lot of misuse of Islam, mixing it with tradition and culture. We never had female interpreters of Islam. It was always interpreted by men. I am there to stand for women’s rights and still be a Muslim,” (2012).
The second issue that could benefit from a female presence is the violence within Afghanistan, perpetrated by the Taliban. As we saw in our class this week in the story of the Liberian Women’s Movement for peace, combining women and non-violence can be a long-term solution where no other solution has worked. Like Liberia’s President Ellen Sirleaf, Fawzia Koofi carries heavy responsibility on her shoulders. She is the potential solution to a country wracked by years of war, and she has the power to advocate for suppressed women and bring a new, more tolerant perspective to decisions.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
Frank Herbert (2007)
“One day the Taliban will probably succeed in killing me. I am resigned to this fate. But for as long as I am alive, I will not rest in my desire to lead my people out an abyss of corruption and poverty. For this reason, I am running for the Afghan presidency in 2014. I was born a girl who should have died. But if God wills it, I may die having become the first female president of a country I love and a country that will finally see all of its children—both boys and girls—born into peace and security, not violence and war,” Fawzia Koofi, 2012.
As a Change Agent student of life, I constantly question myself, what do I fear? How does it limit me? How can I face it? How can I conquer it?
Read more on Koofi and the situation this courageous leader is facing in Afghanistan. www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/01/06/will-fawzia-koofi-be-afghanistan-s-first-female-president.html ; http://www.salon.com/writer/fawzia_koofi/ ; www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/aug/29/afghanistan-election-campaigners-shot-dead