Abu Dhabi summit: Afghan women’s rights activists, who defied Taliban, bag top awards

Ghafari urged the women leaders to raise their voice in support of humanity, for women and girls



Zarifa Ghafari (left) and Naheed Farid with their Changemaker Awards at the inaugural Forbes’ 30/50 Summit held in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Forbes
Zarifa Ghafari (left) and Naheed Farid with their Changemaker Awards at the inaugural Forbes’ 30/50 Summit held in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Forbes
by

Ashwani Kumar

Published: Tue 8 Mar 2022, 9:37 PM

Naheed Farid and Zarifa Ghafari, two Afghan women’s rights activists, were presented with the Changemaker Awards at the inaugural Forbes’ 30/50 Summit held in Abu Dhabi.

For years, brave women have been leading the efforts to safeguard rights for women in Afghanistan. They have grown up under the Taliban’s misogynist rule and endured sufferings. The Taliban destroyed Farid’s school and burnt all books. Despite the odds, she completed her degree in law and political science.

In 2010, at the age of 27, Farid became the youngest elected parliamentarian in Afghanistan.

In the next 11 years as a public representative, she advanced the cause for women’s rights. However, she noted that her tireless political endeavours of the past decade have now “disappeared” under current Taliban rule.

“Afghanistan is a country where baby girls are sold for marriage, women cannot travel without male counterparts, where girls cannot go to secondary school, where women protesters disappear, will you continue your fight,” Farid asked a gathering of women from Forbes’ ‘30 Under 30’ and ‘50 Over 50’ lists.

“Many of us will give up, but Afghan women didn’t give up. Taliban claimed victory over the US and Nato allies, but they are afraid of women protesters in the streets of Kabul,” she said during the summit held on International Women’s Day.

When the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan, Farid fled with her three young children. However, she continues to use her voice to advocate for an inclusive Afghan government girl’s education, among others.

“The women and youth in Afghanistan will not tolerate this brutal, totalitarian regime despite the harsh crackdown, forced disappearance, intimidation and beatings of the Taliban. They can cut down some flowers, but they cannot stop the spring from coming,” she added.

Ghafari was one of the country’s first female mayors and the youngest at the age of 26. However, from the first day in office, she faced death threats and harassment. Her father was assassinated. She, too, escaped Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover but returned home last week to continue advocating for women’s rights.

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“We have endured the level of violence that the rest of the women in the world will not be able to endure for a movement. We still do not lose hope. We continue to fight and strive for peace.”

Ghafari felt after 40 years of war, the only hope to restore peace and stability in Afghanistan is by having an open discussion and negotiation with the Taliban.

“We need to speak with Taliban leaders about women’s rights, our dreams, our today and future.”

Ghafari urged the women leaders to raise their voice in support of humanity, for women and girls.


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