STORY: Zarifa Ghafari - Former Afghan Mayor
SOURCE: UNTV CH
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
DATELINE: 22 September 2021, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
Taliban can’t rule Afghanistan without women, says female mayor who fled Kabul
Afghan political campaigner Zarifa Ghafari – a former female mayor who fled Kabul last month – has insisted that the Taliban must allow women to play a meaningful part in Afghanistan’s future.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Geneva Peace Talks on Tuesday 21 September at UN Geneva, where she was attending the NGO event as a keynote speaker and activist, Ms. Ghafari described how the situation has deteriorated in the country.
“Since 15 August, unfortunately, life is getting so hard for everyone: the financial situation, poverty, the level of violence, the level of poverty, the level of fear, the level of losses goes on and up always, day by day.”
Ms. Ghafari became the mayor of Maidan Shar, near Kabul, in 2018, at the age of 26. She survived attacks on her life by the Taliban, who murdered her father, she said. “Taliban attacked me three times. They killed my dad, they destroyed my yesterday and my future… And they took all the hopes and everything that I had and the world that I made for myself.”
Today, having fled abroad soon after the Taliban takeover, she remains determined to speak up on behalf of all Afghan women – noting that not a single one has been appointed to the new Afghan rulers’ cabinet.
“Qualifications in this new government is being part of jihad, being part of killing of people,” she maintained, adding that she didn’t care if there the Taliban appointees were “Hazara, Uzbek, Pashtun or whatever…there are no women, so this this cabinet, it’s not my cabinet”.
Volunteering herself for talks with the Taliban on behalf of all Afghan women, Ms. Ghafari said that women had been “the biggest victims of ongoing conflicts since more than 60 years”.
She added: “I want to talk to them on behalf of all women of Afghanistan who have been already paid a big amount of prices for the war or maybe for the peace. So now, they are just lost.”
A certain amount of progress on gender equality has happened in Afghanistan since the country’s new rulers were last in power, 20 years ago, Ms. Ghafari continued: “We are not the women of 2001, we are not the women of the 90s; if they really want to govern and lead in Afghanistan, they are not able to govern without 50 per cent of Afghanistan which are women.”
Nonetheless, the former mayor of Maidan Shar remains concerned about the future of girls and women whose education is under threat. “More than 50 per cent of teachers at school were women around the country,” she said. “But now, women are just forced to stay at home and more importantly, and so the worst part, is asking women, asking girls not to come to school and abandoning them from school.”
She added: “For what do we have to pay? Why should I pay? Why am I paying? So I think these are the most important topics that we need to talk about it, and if they are ignoring it, they will have the same ignorance in Afghanistan that they are having right now.”