A conversation with… Fawzia Koofi

Thursday 28 October 2021

Fawzia Koofi is a former member of a peace negotiation team representing the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Ms Koofi is currently the leader of a newly established political party called Movement for Change for Afghanistan, and was nominated for the Nobel peace prize in 2020 for her efforts towards peace.

She has made her leadership journey in a country of internal conflicts. After completing her baccalaureate degree, she entered a competitive medical school but soon after, in September 1995, the Taliban took over. They barred women from access to all education, and so, finding the doors of a university education closed to her, Ms Koofi focused her energies on women’s rights organisations and worked closely with vulnerable groups, such as internally displaced people and marginalised women and children.

After the fall of the Taliban Ms Koofi continued her work and eventually received her bachelor's degree from the Kabul University’s Law and Political Sciences faculty, and her Masters on International Relations from the Geneva School of Diplomacy. Ms Koofi’s political family background and commitment to public service motivated her to grasp opportunities, paving the way for many women. She decided to run for a seat in parliament in the Badakhshan province and was elected in September 2005.

Ms Koofi was subsequently elected as the first woman Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament in the history of Afghanistan. Some of the key women’s initiatives that she has championed include the improvement of women’s living conditions in Afghan prisons; women’s education; and the issue of violence against children – with the latter taking the form of a commission chaired by Afghanistan’s first Vice President. She has tabled many progressive laws protecting women and children, such as those on violence against women, and the harassment of women and children. She has also contributed to laws that ensure the protection of human rights for Afghan citizens.

In 2016 she was elected as President of Inter-Parliamentary Union’s (IPU) Human Rights Committee, an organisation that works to promote democracy and peace around the world.

She has been hailed as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, Fearless Mind of 2013 by the Times Magazine, among others.

Ms Koofi has authored both the memoir Letters to my Daughters and her autobiography, The Favoured Daughter.