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Fawzia Koofi- Fearless Voice

This article is part of our series on the New Global Generation of Female Change-Makers.

Fawzia Koofi is a leader with a vision: to change Afghanistan into a society that is based on the rule of law, civility, and human rights. Despite numerous attacks on her life, what she is most afraid of is “being misunderstood by people.”

What is Afghanistan’s biggest challenge at the moment?

 As you know the country right now is at a very critical time. Both in terms of security, which is a big challenge but also lack of good governance. There is no strong government to be able to deliver proper services to the people of Afghanistan— such as rule of law and service delivery—a government that is able to provide people with jobs. Corruption is also a major problem in Afghanistan.

How do you feel about the foreign troops withdrawing soon?

What is the atmosphere in Afghanistan, what do people think about it? The international community set up this plan to withdraw in 2014, which is very close, two years from now. This is also a very important year for Afghanistan because we will have presidential elections so there will be a political transition of power as well. The international community came to Afghanistan with two objectives: to help the people of Afghanistan establish a strong government, and for security reasons. I think that we were not able to achieve both objectives. I think that the links to the Taliban and Al-Qaida are still there, I think they have become stronger, I think their social standing has expanded and they can be, at any time, a security threat for Afghanistan and for our international friends. Given the fact that the security in Afghanistan is one of the main challenges, I think the 2014 withdrawal is not realistic. The people in Afghanistan are very anxious and confused. This planned withdrawal is based on ground realities from the West, not based on ground realities in Afghanistan. I think the best solution would be to have elections in 2014 and to prepare the ground for a transparent and fair election, and then gradually, once we had a strong government, the international community could depart from Afghanistan. But like this, it will not resolve in peace in Afghanistan. We would like Afghanistan to stand on its own feet, but the problem is that it’s not like that now.

Your book The Favored Daughter was not only about your personal story but also a quest to find Afghanistan’s identity. After 33 years of war and conflict how do you see the country’s identity?

Thank you very much for that description. In fact, that was one of the objectives in writing this book. To let people know the other side of Afghan history and Afghanistan. It is not just terrorism and war but it’s a country of culture and value and a country of relationship and natural resources. I think the past ten years changed Afghanistan’s identity to a large extent. Now you go to different countries and you see that Afghanistan is respected as a national identity. I think that it is a very good achievement. Part of the challenge now is to fill the lack of vision. I think the country is going in the right direction to reveal its own identity. Afghanistan has its own culture, its own values with its own tradition. Some of those traditions are actually good traditions, particularly the family values and the family relationship. They helped women and children, especially during the war. Without the family system you can imagine how many women and children would be on the streets now in Afghanistan. But luckily, because of the strong family values, we do not have as many homeless women and children that you find in many other post-conflict countries.

Read the rest of this insightful interview in our latest issue, available on our webshop as an individual issue or subscription package.

tumblr visitor statsBy Janine Huguenin

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