Is Fawzia Koofi Afghanistan’s Next President?
You may not be familiar with the name Fawzia Koofi, but I feel compelled to write about her as an exemplar of courage. She is an Afghani mother and politician willing to risk her life and her daughters’ lives to serve other women and her nation in the cause of freedom. Read about Fawzia Koofi.
A Profile in Courage … or Fame
I have occasionally thought of running for office or encouraging my husband to do so. I let the thought of media intrusion, opponents’ verbal attacks, the impact on my family life, and a niggling suspicion that I couldn’t accomplish much discourage me. Reading about Fawzia Koofi makes me feel ashamed or my timidity and lack of conviction. She faces much more than verbal attacks—the Taliban and others have tried to kill her and will undoubtedly try again. She’s hampered by a culture so anti-female that you’d think she’d be unable to effect any meaningful change, and yet she keeps plugging, getting funds for highways or schools, and, more importantly, showing women that they can have a voice and make a difference.
Some might argue that she’s in it for the power or the fame, and that may be partly true. She recently penned a memoir and it’s hard to tell in this age of non-stop media coverage and twenty-four hour news cycles how much of a person’s search for publicity is driven by the “fifteen minutes of fame factor” (think anyone involved in a Real Housewives or similar reality show), and how much is bowing to the necessity to be accessible, to get your name and face out there in order to proclaim your message. Regardless, she’s put herself on the line to move Afghanistan what may be no more than a scant half-inch into the twenty-first century when it comes to freedom for women, and I don’t think it matters if her motives are a mix of the selfless and the egotistic.
The Price of Freedom
I admit I’m pessimistic about her chances . . . not just for political success, but for survival. I’m also worried about her daughters’ fates because she has no shortage of opponents who wouldn’t think twice about killing her teen and tween daughters or maiming them with acid. As Indira Gandhi knew only too well, there is no security measure that can keep a fanatic from getting to you if he’s willing to sacrifice his life to achieve his aim. Ditto for Benazir Bhutto. My prayers are with Fawzia Koofi and her daughters.
We Americans are also in an election year and I hope we don’t take our freedom and the safety of our process—ugly as it sometimes is—for granted. Put a candidate’s sign in your yard, contribute time or money to a campaign you believe in and, above all, vote. Vote, and be grateful that no one’s likely to throw acid in your face when you do, whether you’re male or female, and whether you’re voting for a man or a woman.