Last winter I read a moving story about two women’s lives in the war torn country. The Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini paints a vivid and often sad but still hope filled picture of the Human Spirit winning all odds. It has staid with me, an intriguing saga of solidarity. I recommend it without hesitation to all who care to understand our diversity and the value our differences.
Now I had the chance to read the powerful memoir of Fawzia Koofi, a known women rights campaigner and the first female Speaker of the Afghan Parliament.
It was captivating read and I finally started to really understand the fabric of Afghan society. And I only can wish from my heart that the country could recover from decades of terror and horror. Her story captures the political and cultural complexity in Afghanistan. Coming from the northernmost remote, very poor and very conservative province of Badakhshan she grew up as the 19. of the 23 children of her father who had seven wives. According to Islamic law he had to divorce some of them in order to remarry. Fawzia Koofi was left to die in the sun after birth by her mother, but she survived and became her favored daughter. Through extreme hardship and threats to her life she has emerged as a beacon of hope for the country.
As it was customary in her village girls were given to marriage as young as 12-year olds despite the legal marrying age of 16 years. She escaped this by losing her influential father and being a child refugee in Faizabad. She was the first girl in her family to be allowed to have a school education. Although her father was a well known politician who represented the province in Kabul parliament girls education was not appropriate in her village. Education was not seen necessary for girls as they were to marry and their husbands would be in charge of everything. She was overjoyed to get this opportunity as her widowed mother insisted. And now a widow herself and a mother of two girls she is an outspoken advocate of women and children rights and is planning to campaign for the 2014 parliamentary elections. For a future for Afghanistan and her daughters.
When reading of women of stature and high moral character and their determination one cannot but wish more of their kind would be given the reigns of power to change the course of history, by some magic might. Would the world have a better chance then? Today it looks like we do not have a chance in the face of rapid population growth, hunger due to climate change, swindling natural reserves and the wars over them. Men have done their best, although I’m not convinced. What if..
Ramadan Kareem, my dear readers!