From local politics to dreaming of contributing internationally
By Ms. Fawzia Koofi
Member of Parliament in Kabul, Afghanistan and Vice President of the National Assembly
When I first came to politics in 2005, my core focus was not international relations; representing one of the remotest provinces located in Pamir and HindoKush mountains connecting Wakhan corridor; my focus was to change the lives of some of the poorest people that I was representing.
My motivation was to help people who used to walk for days to reach a basic social service get road connection; to help build hospitals and health centres for women who have the highest maternal mortality in the world; to support children and infants so that they don’t die in massive numbers before they reach the age of five.
My intentions back then was to focus on domestic issues and help needy people including getting out of the dark life they had. My priority was to help young girls’ get access to school so that a girl aged 10 years old doesn’t have to again walk for two hours to get to a school.
I wanted to prove to my constituents and in large to my country that women can be agents of change, they can do things differently and effectively. It was not an easy task for woman like me who herself was an unwanted child during delivery.
As stated in my autobiography called ” letters to my daughters” released in 2011, I have suffered numerous discrimination and injustice like many other Afghan women; but once elected to Office I had to work harder to prove that women have the hidden capacity, they just need to be given the chance to demonstrate their abilities. I wanted to proof to my country that unwanted children can be a success story.
Of course my case might be exceptional as there are thousands of women like me who have been through as much difficulties as I have been, but they couldn’t make it to where I am to change life for others. I guess the main credit should go to my mother who was not educated herself, but made it possible for me to be educated despite a lot of internal family opposition. I guess education was my only weapon to fight all the odds I was facing daily. If I was not educated I was perhaps raising children behind the big mountains of Pamir and looking to the world from small windows of my house; not knowing the world is there to explore it. That is why my main focus was education for women.
Soon after I was elected as the first woman in our history to be the deputy speaker of Parliament, I realized that we are living in an interconnected world where without International connections and relations, my voice speaking on behalf of the most unheard voices of the world would have not been heard if we were not connected with people of same values globally, I was not able to build hospitals and schools without support of friends from the rest of the world.
Afghanistan certainly made countless progress post the Taliban fall in 2001; all of this would have not been possible without having sound relations with the rest of the world especially our strategic partners. My country is located in one of the conflicting zones, some politicians in Afghanistan think we still have disputed border with Pakistan. In the 60’s and 70’s before I was born, Afghanistan used to enjoy neutral foreign policy, which in turn contributed to political and economical stability for my country among superpowers of Ex. USSR and Great Britain.
I see nowadays globalization and international inter- connectivity as an opportunity and a challenge for the world. I want to contribute to a world where human beings live with dependency on abilities and potentials of each and everyone, where every human being has the chance to explore their best versions; where I could contribute to a world which is less complex and more human friendly.
That is why I had the honor of being granted the admission to study International relation at Geneva School of Diplomacy, GSD to get my master. I am hoping my experience of a third world country along with the knowledge I gain from GSD will help me achieve my goals for a better world.