In third grade, my teacher taught our class a song where the lyrics stated all the U.S. Presidents in order, from George Washington to Bill Clinton. To this day, I still know (and occasionally sing) the song, with every election adding the newest incoming male U.S. President. Unfortunately, throughout the United States’ 239 year history, the U.S. has never experienced leadership from a female President. However, that is not the case in the rest of the world. Setting extraordinary examples, women leaders serve in the country’s highest office in Liberia, Switzerland, Argentina, Lithuania, Costa Rica, Brazil, Kosovo, Malawi, San Marino, and South Korea. Recently, a campaign has begun supporting a female Presidential candidate in the most unlikely of countries – Afghanistan.
Running for President of Afghanistan in 2014, Fawzia Koofi’s life has been a constant struggle. Left in the Afghan heat to die as an infant, Koofi’s mother believed death as a more sympathetic option than suffering through life as a female in Afghanistan. Eventually changing her mind and rescuing Koofi from the scalding outdoor temperatures, Koofi’s mother promised herself that no harm would ever come to her child again. Making good on her promise, Koofi eventually became the first female in her family to attend school and, later, a member of Parliament serving as Afghanistan’s first female Parliament speaker.
Surviving an assassination attempt by the Taliban, Koofi continues to campaign for the 2014 Presidential seat. Because traditional Islamic culture views women as property, Koofi’s courageous campaign and leadership stirs tension among some Afghans – particularly the Taliban. Resigning herself to the idea that she might, one day, be killed by the Taliban, Koofi continues fighting for women’s rights and is undeterred on her journey to becoming the first female President of Afghanistan.
For more information on Fawzia Koofi and her Presidential campaign, please visit the following:
Fawzia Koofi’s book, The Favored Daughter: One Woman’s Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future