Written by Jonathan N. Jackson
Published on April 22, 2012
Fawzia Koofi is a veteran Afghan parliamentary lawmaker, accomplished author, and internationally known outspoken advocate for the rights of women and children, democracy, and moderate Islam. She is the first female in the Afghan parliament to be elected as Second Deputy Speaker, and she heads the parliament’s Women Affairs Commission. Not only has Koofi humanized the otherwise faceless international discussion of the struggles and abuse of Afghan women, she is on the forefront of educating the international community as to the consequences for her, and other advocates of reform should the international community and their security forces be withdrawn.
Koofi started her political career in 2001 when she began to promote a “Back To School” campaign targeted at the rights of women in Afghanistan to an education. By 2002 she took employment as a Child Protection Officer with UNICEF, and in 2005 she was elected as a parliamentary representative for Badakhshan province, her native region in the rural mountains of northern Afghanistan.
Though from a respected family, with her father a member of parliament himself in the 1970’s, Koofi’s life has been far from ideal and marked with the types of struggle that are rare in most countries and yet commonplace in Afghanistan. She was born in 1970, the 19th of 23 children to her father’s second of seven wives. Her mother, distraught at having a daughter, abandoned Koofi soon after birth, leaving her on a roadside to die. Fortunately, Koofi was saved by a person who eventually reunited Koofi with her mother upon her mother’s promising to not attempt harm against Koofi again.
At home Koofi experienced abuse herself and watched as her mother and father’s other wives were beaten for reasons as simple as when a meal was not properly prepared. While Koofi was still young, her father and brothers were killed in political unrest throughout the country, and Koofi herself has been the target of a direct assassination attempt. She was nearly killed in an incident between her soldiers and Taliban opponents, and receives regular credible death threats.
Koofi has also been cited as a possible contender for the Afghan presidency as she stands fast to her ideals of the rights of women and children, rule of law, moderate Islam, and no compromise to the Taliban for the sake of peace at the expense of the safety and security of all the citizens of Afghanistan.
Koofi is married and has two daughters.