Fawzia Koofi, Afghanistan’s Vice President of Parliament, discusses women’s struggles at panel

women's strugglesFawzia Koofi, along with her daughter, discussing at the panel | Conor Moore, PantherNOW

Conor Moore | Assistant News Director

Afghanistan’s first female vice president of Parliament Fawzia Koofi spoke over Zoom at FIU. Her daughter, Sharzhad spoke as well, detailing the plight of women and their ongoing oppression under Taliban rule.

The event was hosted by the United Human Rights Foundation, an organization dedicated to educating people on human rights and trafficking.

“Education and women’s rights have always been used as a weapon that was used by rebel groups or governments in power. The Taliban get their power from suppressing women”, said Koofi.

In Afghanistan, human rights for women have been all but stripped away, such as heavy restrictions on what they are allowed to wear, who to marry and no political or educational participation.

Koofi spoke about how conditions rapidly deteriorated for women as soon as the Taliban rose to power in 1996.

“My first year of medical college, they banned all women from going out, and if you were out, they questioned why you were there. You need to have the liberty to choose where you want to go, but they ignored your existence as a human being. I think it is a trauma that the women of Afghanistan will never overcome.”

Koofi responded to a question regarding the state of millions of Afghan refugees that were recently deported from Pakistan and Iran.

“We don’t really know who they are. And the theory, maybe among these people, there will be groups who create further insecurity who could endanger the national security of Afghanistan for the long term. For those who are actually refugees, the winter is coming. They do not have their homes, they do not have a job.”

Many of these refugees expelled have lived in Pakistan and Iran all their lives, with the deportation coming as a major shock to those who have lived in these countries since the Soviet-Afghan War.

Another question concerned the international community’s response to the Taliban and their rule over Afghanistan, where they have ruled unopposed since 2021.

“The international community does not have a consensus on how they want to engage with the Taliban. On one hand, there is an obvious humanitarian crisis. So why are, for example, Muslim countries silent in the face of these atrocities? Why is the Taliban doing things in contradiction with Islamic principles?”, said Koofi.

Her daughter, Sharzhad, also spoke at length regarding the importance of women and education.

“I want everybody, including the women of Afghanistan, and women all around the globe to get education because I understand the importance of it. I am very sad to see that Islam, such a beautiful, peaceful religion, is represented by the Taliban,” said Sharzhad.

The United Nations have declared education a human right, further stressing the lack of freedoms women in Afghanistan have.

“I think the fact that the Taliban know that education is very important, and if you educate a woman, this indicates in a nation that the woman is the heart of the family. If society becomes enlightened from within, then they don’t have power over the people anymore.”

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