Condemned to die shortly after birth for being a girl, outspoken Afghan member of parliament Fawzia Koofi lived to become a champion of women’s rights and is now eyeing the presidency in 2014. The 36-year-old expects harsh opposition, threats of violence and pressure against her family as her campaign gets underway to replace Hamid Karzai, who must step down that year after serving the constitutional limit of two consecutive terms. “I am sure my campaign will be the noisiest. I will have lots of troubles against me,” the politician from the country’s remote northeastern Badakhshan province told Reuters in an interview this week. Koofi is the first person to declare an intention to run in the election, which is becoming increasingly fraught with confusion and uncertainty in the run-up to the withdrawal of foreign combat troops by the end of 2014.
Her bid would appear a long shot. Most ordinary Afghans in the ultra-conservative, deeply Muslim country do not take the idea of a female leader too seriously but Koofi is undeterred. “It’s very easy to terrorize a woman in Afghanistan. It’s very easy to create accusations against a woman, and then her political life will be finished,” Koofi said in her lavishly decorated palatial home, adorned with masses of gold colored curtains.
She has surprised her male counterparts in the past, first as a member of parliament and later by becoming its first female deputy speaker, victories which brought a near-death attack from the Taliban and threats on her life from the Haqqani militant network allied with the Taliban. She was first elected to parliament in 2005, one of almost 90 women of 240 members. She won a seat again in 2010.
Full Article: Afghan woman MP sets sights on presidency | Reuters.