Fawzia Koofi

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Fawzia Koofi
فَوزیَه کوفی
Koofi speaking at Chatham House in 2012
Vice President of the National Assembly
In office
2005 – 15 August 2021
Member of the Wolesi Jirga for Badakhshan
In office
2005 – 15 August 2021
Personal details
Fawzia Koofi

1975 (age 48–49)
Badakhshan, Republic of Afghanistan
Residence(s)Kabul, Afghanistan
Alma materPreston University
OccupationPolitician, rights activist

Fawzia Koofi (Persian: فوزیه کوفی, Persian pronunciation: [fæwziːæ(h) kuːfiː]; born in 1975)[1] is an Afghan politician, writer, and women's rights activist. Originally from Badakhshan province, Koofi was recently a member of the Afghan delegation negotiating peace with the Taliban in Doha Qatar. She is an ex Member of Parliament in Kabul and was the Vice President of the National Assembly.


Youth and education[edit]

Koofi's father was a Member of Parliament (MP) for 25 years but died at the end of the Afghan war (1979–1989), killed by Mujahideen.[1]

Born into a polygamous family of seven women, Koofi was first rejected by her parents because of her gender. Her father had married a younger woman and her mother sought to have a son to maintain her husband's affection. The day Koofi was born, she was left out to die in the sun.[2]

Koofi managed to persuade her parents to send her to school, making her the only girl in the family to attend. She originally pursued a medical degree but was unable to continue when the Taliban banned women from all education after their 1996 takeover.[3] After the 2001 fall of the Taliban she returned to school and eventually graduated from Preston university with a master's degree in business and management.[4]

Koofi worked with vulnerable groups such as Internally Displaced People (IDP) and marginalized women and children, and served as a child protection officer for UNICEF from 2002 to 2004.[4]

Political career[edit]

Then U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with the speakers of the Afghan Parliament, Fawzia Koofi and Sayed Hamed Gailani in 2006.

Koofi began her political career in 2001 after the fall of the Taliban, promoting the right to education of girls in her "Back to school" campaign.

From 2001 to 2004, Fawzia Koofi worked with UNICEF as a Child Protection Officer to protect children from violence, exploitation and abuse.[4]

In the parliamentary elections in 2005, she was elected to the Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of the Afghan National Assembly, for the Badakhshan district in the northeastern part of the country and served as the Deputy Speaker of the lower house whose president also carries the title of Vice President of the National Assembly.[1][4] She was the first female Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament in the history of Afghanistan. She was re-elected in the parliamentary elections of 2010 and then elected MP from a total of 69 female members of the Assembly.

In Parliament, she has focused primarily on women's rights, but she also has legislated for the building of roads to connect remote villages to educational and health facilities.[5] In 2009 Koofi drafted the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) legislation.[6] Signed as a decree, the draft needed to be voted on in order to become an official document of the constitution. It was presented to Parliament in 2013 and was blocked by the conservative members who claimed articles of the law went against Islam. However, the law is being implemented in all 34 provinces in Afghanistan and court cases are being decided based on the law.[5]

She has survived several assassination attempts, including one on March 8, 2010, near the town of Tora Bora.[7]

Koofi intended to run for President of Afghanistan in the 2014 Afghan presidential election on a platform of equal rights for women, promoting universal education, and the opposition to political corruption,[8][9] but she said in July 2014 that the election commission moved the registration date to October 2013 and as a result she did not qualify for the minimum age requirement of 40 years of age.[10]

She was re-elected as a member of Parliament in 2014 but no longer serves as the deputy speaker. She currently serves as Chairperson of Afghanistan's Women, Civil Society and Human Rights Commission.[11]

In 2020, Fawzia Koofi was a part of the 21-member team, which was supposed to represent the Afghanistan government in the negotiation peace talks with the Taliban. On 14 August 2020, she was shot in the arm by gunmen, who attempted to assassinate her near Kabul, while she was returning from a visit to the northern province of Parwan with her sister Maryam Koofi.[12]

Amid the rapid advance of the Taliban during the summer of 2021, when asked in an interview about her thoughts regarding the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, Fawzia Koofi said that the U.S. had abandoned the women of Afghanistan and that she's very disappointed with what's happening.[13]

Women's rights engagement[edit]

Koofi has made it a priority to defend women's rights in Afghanistan.[1]

Some of the key women's initiatives that she has championed during her tenure as an MP include: the improvement of women's living conditions in Afghan prisons; the establishment of a commission to combat the issue of violence (especially sexual violence) against children; and the amendment of the shia personal status law.

Koofi also promoted education for women and children by advocating for access to good schools and creating opportunities for non-formal education for her constituents in Badakhshan province. While serving as Deputy Speaker in 2005, Koofi raised private funding to build girls schools in remote provinces.[14] In 2009, she was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.[15] In 2020 she supported a change to Afghan law brought about by the #WhereIsMyName campaign led by Laleh Osmany to include women's names on Afghan identity cards, describing it as a "human right".[16]

Personal life[edit]

Koofi was married to a man named Hamid, an engineer and chemistry teacher. Her marriage was arranged, but she did not disapprove of her family's choice. Ten days after their wedding, Taliban soldiers arrested her husband and he was imprisoned. In prison he contracted tuberculosis and died shortly after his release in 2003. Koofi lives in Kabul with her two teenage daughters.[1][17]

Autobiographical memoir[edit]

The Favored Daughter: One Woman's Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future, is an autobiographical memoir written by Fawzia Koofi with the aid of Nadene Ghouri.[18] Originally published under the title Letters to My Daughter,[19] this edition was published in 2012 by Palgrave Macmillan Publishers.[20] The book tells the story of Koofi's life throughout her childhood, education, and involvement in politics. It consists of narrations about her life interspersed with letters written to her two daughters.


  • Fawzia Koofi (April 2011). Letters to My Daughters. Canada: Douglas & Mcintyre. ISBN 978-1-55365-876-4.
  • Fawzia Koofi (3 January 2012). The Favored Daughter: One Woman's Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future. USA: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-12067-9.

In the Media[edit]

  • BBC HARDtalk 08 Jun 2022 Fawzia Koofi: Do Afghans still have hope?[21]


She was recognized as one of the BBC's 100 women in 2013.[22]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Malbrunot, Georges (25 February 2011). "Fawzia, un défi aux talibans" [Fawzia, a challenge to the Taliban]. Le Figaro (in French). p. 18.
  2. ^ "A 'Favored Daughter' Fights For The Women Of Afghanistan". NPR. 22 February 2012. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  3. ^ Qazi, Shereena. "Who are the Afghan women negotiating peace with the Taliban?". Aljazeera. Retrieved 14 October 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d "Guests of First Lady Laura Bush". ABC News. 31 January 2006. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  5. ^ a b "In conversation with Fawzia Koofi member of Parliament from Badakshan" 7 June 2014, www.youtube.com, accessed 8 November 2020
  6. ^ "Women MP's come together to demand equal representation". Archived from the original on 29 May 2017. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  7. ^ Bryony Gordon (23 February 2012). "'The Taliban want to kill me. But I am fighting for my daughters' freedom' Fawzia Koofi hopes to be Afghanistan's first woman president. The Taliban are determined to stop her". The Daily Telegraph.
  8. ^ Graeme Woods (14 February 2013). "Fawzia Koofi Member of Parliament, Afghanistan". theatlantic.com.
  9. ^ "Woman of the week - Fawzia Koofi Championing feminism in a country where male-chauvinism reigns". platform51.org. 16 March 2012. Archived from the original on 21 April 2012. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  10. ^ Fawzia Koofi, the female politician who wants to lead Afghanistan 18 December 2013, www.newstatesman.com, accessed 8 November 2020
  11. ^ "Fawzia Koofi on Afghanistan Women's Rights Under Ashraf Ghani" 5 November 2014 fawziakoofi.org, accessed 8 November 2020
  12. ^ "Female Afghan peace negotiator wounded in assassination bid". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
  13. ^ She risked everything for women's rights in Afghanistan. Now she could lose it all, cbc.ca, Aug 12, 2021
  14. ^ “900 Afghani girls need a building for their school.” Fundraiser at www.indiegogo.com, accessed 8 November 2020
  15. ^ "Support Committee for Fawzia Koofi: Mission". fawziakoofi.org. Archived from the original on 17 April 2012. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
  16. ^ "WhereIsMyName: Afghan women campaign for the right to reveal their names". BBC News. 24 July 2020. Retrieved 20 December 2020.
  17. ^ Sachs, Susan (21 January 2011). "Fawzi Koofi: The face of what Afghanistan could be". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 7 January 2012. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  18. ^ Fawzia Koofi: The Favored Daughter fawziakoofi.org, accessed 8 November 2020
  19. ^ ‘Favored Daughter’: Fawzia Koofi on Making Women's History in Afghanistan Archived 21 April 2019 at the Wayback Machine Women's Voices for Change, accessed 8 November 2020
  20. ^ Koofi, Fawzia, and Nadene Ghouri. The Favored Daughter: One Woman's Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. ISBN 9780230120679
  21. ^ "HARDtalk - Fawzia Koofi: Do Afghans still have hope? - BBC Sounds". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 30 August 2022.
  22. ^ "100 Women: Who took part?". BBC News. 20 October 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2022.

External links[edit]