Zohra Daoud

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Zohra Yousuf Daoud (Persian: زهره يوسف داود ) (born 1954, Kabul) is an Afghan TV celebrity, radio show host, journalist and citizen of the United States. In December 1972 Daoud became the only woman to this date ever to be crowned Miss Afghanistan, months before a bloodless coup forced King Zahir Shah into exile.

A social activist[edit]

Throughout their stay in America, Daoud remained involved in the Afghan American community, using her spare time volunteering for her community's cause. In 1996 she co-founded the Afghan Women Association of Southern California, and she still hosts a radio talk show on the 24-hour Voice of Afghanistan.[1] However, Zohra maintained a low profile about her former beauty queen status until 11 September 2001 when Daoud grew weary of the media's treatment of Afghan women as illiterate, burqa-clad victims, and felt the need to speak out.

In that context, Zohra began her new project Women for Afghan Women, an organization to promote Afghan women's human rights, in April 2001. As a part of that project she also co-authored a book [1] by the same name, that was edited by Sunita Mehta, and also featured contributions from Homaira Mamoor, Gloria Steinem and Eleanor Smeal and others.

Zohra also held negotiations with a Taliban delegation in the United States, being the first Afghan woman, and woman in general to hold such neogotiations, at the beginning of their rule, to put the case for liberation for her sisters back home[2] and has spoken at various Human Rights conventions and conferences, including the Afghan Women's Summit, that was held in Brussels in December 2001.[3]

In June 2005, she was also speaker at the Afghan Arts & Film Festival organized by Afghan Communicator at California State University, Northridge where she emphasized the importance of Afghan art and culture.[4]

Life in Afghanistan[edit]

Zohra Daoud lived a high class life in Afghanistan. Her Father was Afghanistan’s U.S. educated surgeon and her mother came from a well-recognized family. She was raised around her personal cooks and maids in high-society Kabul. She was privileged, therefore she had no need to enter the pageant. As the pageant gained fame, she gained interest and entered the Miss Universe pageant. In Kabul, she made an impression on Television executives and radio hosts. When she went back to Afghanistan, she became a host of a TV show. It was a quiz show in which participants competed against each other on their knowledge of recent occasions. After her crowning at the age of 18, Zohra Daoud married Mohammad Daoud, a trained commercial airline captain.[5]

Zohra Daoud as Miss Afghanistan[edit]

On December 1972, Zohra Daoud was crowned as Miss Afghanistan. Sponsored by Afghan Life Magazine, Daoud attracted approximately 100 contestants around the age of 20, majority of them from Kabul. Daoud saw the pageant as an opportunity to promote high education and academic achievement for young afghan girls. Today, Zohra Daoud remains as the one and only Miss Afghanistan.[6]

Early life in United States[edit]

In 1979, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. A year later, Zohra Daoud, her husband Mohammad Daoud, along with their infant, fled to Germany. In 1980, she arrived at Virginia's Norfolk International Airport, where she realized that her life as a high class citizen was over. With a degree in French literature from Kabul University, Zohra Daoud managed to get a job in a French bakery in Richmond. When she arrived at the job, she was handed a mop and sent to the kitchen to sweep the floors. Despite being a trained commercial pilot, Zohra Daoud’s husband, Mohammad Daoud, worked at McDonald's, and then as a taxi driver. Zohra and Mohammad Daoud later began taking English classes, tutorial and exams in order to improve their English language. After all the hard work, Mohammad Daoud landed a job as a pilot for United Airlines. With their increase in income, Mohammad and Zohra Daoud began getting the rest of their family members into United States, as well as settling in their California home.[7]


  1. ^ Judy Aita, Washington File Staff Writer (5 December 2001). "Women for Afghan Women hold New York City conference". Relief Web, via the United States Department of State. 
  2. ^ Monica Attard (14 April 2002). "Helen Clark and Zohra Yusuf Daoud". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 
  3. ^ Not Known (2 April 2002). "Where Are the Women? : Debating Afghanistan's Future". CommonDreams.org. 
  4. ^ Not Known (25–26 June 2005). "Afghan Art & Film Festival – June 25 and June 26, 2005". Afghan American Youth Council Website. 
  5. ^ Mehta, Monica. "'A TALK WITH' Zohra Yusuf Daoud". Newsday. Retrieved 4 January 2013. 
  6. ^ Unknown, Unknown. "Zohra Daoud Interview with the first and only Miss Afghanistan". Critical Beauty. Retrieved 4 January 2013. 
  7. ^ Momand, Wahid. "Miss Afghanistan 1972". Afghanistan.com. Retrieved 4 January 2013. 

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