Sunday, January 8, 2012

Will Fawzia Koofi be Afghanistan's first female president?

The day Fawzia Koofi was born, she was left out in the sun to die. Now, 35 years old and the first female deputy speaker of the Afghan parliament, she is running for the Afghan presidency in 2014.

She was her father's 19th child. Three months before her birth, her father's newest wife--a 14-year-old girl--had borne him a son. Her mother hoped that she too would have a son to regain her husband's favor. But after Fawzia was born, nobody cared if she lived or died. While village women struggled to save her mother, Fawzia was left out in the heat for nearly a day before finally being brought inside. In much of Afghanistan, a girl is considered less valuable than a goat--a goat will give you milk and meat, while a girl is just another mouth to feed and a dowry to pay for.

Unfortunately, many women have internalized this attitude as well. Koofi remembers talking to one woman who was sick and due to give birth, but could not ask her husband to take her to the hospital because then he would have to sell one of his cattle. The woman told her, "When I die, my husband can find a new wife, but if he sells the cattle, what will my family eat?"

Koofi has faced many assassination attempts and says that she "doesn't know how she is still alive." She expects that one day the Taliban will kill her for speaking out for human rights. It is truly remarkable that there are people with such amazing courage who are fighting for freedom around the world.

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