Afghan woman runs for president

Fawzia Koofi is not the first woman to run for president, but she and her positions on the issues are well-known, which should boost her campaign.

By Najibullah

2012-10-02

KABUL – Preparations for the 2014 presidential elections are under way in Afghanistan, and this campaign appears likely to be markedly different from preceding contests.

Once again Afghanistan is going to experience what analysts are calling “the greatest manifestation of democracy.” But the upcoming election will be a change from past votes, as outgoing President Hamid Karzai is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term, and one of the candidates hoping to replace him is a woman.

Fawzia Koofi, 35, announced her candidacy in May and is campaigning across the country in hopes of becoming its first female president.

No stranger to politics

Koofi, representing Badakhshan Province, is serving her second term in the Afghan House of Representatives and heads the Women's Affairs Commission in parliament.

“The country needs leaders who are close to the people and are familiar with today’s political challenges,” Koofi told Central Asia Online in an exclusive interview.

Unfortunately, Afghanistan is seen by the world as “encouragement for terrorism,” she said, explaining that, through her candidacy, she hopes to show to the world that, “Although fundamentalism has increased, the willingness to change has also increased at the same rate in Afghanistan.”

She hopes to win the popular vote in the upcoming presidential election by appealing to young voters, who make up 50-60% of the country’s population, she said.

“They welcome and embrace change and transformation,” she said.

A time for change

In addition to the presidential elections, the country is expected to face another major challenge in 2014 – the transition of security responsibilities from the international forces to the Afghan forces.

Koofi said she expects security threats to be one of the biggest challenges during her presidential campaign. She also expressed concern that security issues could very well affect the 2014 democratic process as a whole.

Koofi said she believes that she is already a well-known candidate and that voters are well aware of her stances and positions. This, according to Koofi, is what makes her confident that she’ll be a front-runner in the upcoming election.

Reactions on the street

When asked, most Afghans generally welcome the participation of women in the upcoming presidential elections.

The country’s next leader “should be a woman,” a Kabul resident named Fariba said. “Afghanistan has always been led by men,” she told Central Asia Online, adding that “people want change.”

She intends to vote for a woman to become the next president, she said. Another resident expressed doubts that the country is ready for a woman to lead the country.

Leading Afghanistan would not be easy for a woman, Rahmatullah said.

“Afghanistan has a traditional society, and there is a possibility that a large number of adults, who are accustomed to the traditional leadership, would not welcome the candidacy of a woman,” he said.

Campaign strategy

Though many Afghans’ views on women’s involvement in social and political activities have changed dramatically in the past 10 years, opposition exists.

Koofi said she accepts the inevitability of opposition to her candidacy by some extremist mullahs and other groups but contended that such a viewpoint is not unanimous among religious scholars.

Considering that she received most of her 2010 parliamentary election votes from women and young voters, Koofi is counting on them in her campaign for president. She holds close relationships with women and youth organisations, from which she derives her political strength.

Another challenge is whether voters will turn out. Besides the security factor, voters need the assurance of a transparent, fraud-thwarting election law and an honest election commission, said Abdul Kabir Ranjbar, a Kabul University instructor and former MP. Otherwise, they won’t bother to vote, he warned.

Koofi said she also plans to travel to various parts of the country to campaign. Lack of security won’t stop her from doing so, she said, even though in some provinces the security situation is unfavourable.

Other woman candidates have run without winning many votes, she acknowledged, a reference to Masooda Jalal (2004) and Shala Afa and Frozan Fana (2009).

Only the future will show whether Afghan society is ready to entrust a woman with presidential responsibilities, she said.

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Reader Comments

  • Fawzia Kufi, your motivation is the desire for peace and tolerance. I respect you as a woman and a mother. Your flag for democracy is advancing. Alga Fawzia Kufi, I am from Bishkek, I pray for you. Tashtanbubu

    November 19, 2012 @ 01:11:37AM Таштанбубу
  • this is not written in holy book that an women can participate in any political election because in sura NISA it is completively rejected, women should stay at home to work for childres and her husbands worship

    November 17, 2012 @ 08:11:53AM PROFESSOR[ R] IQBAL HUSSAIN PANHWAR
  • afghan people is very bad

    November 13, 2012 @ 05:11:23AM mohsin jan
  • I an my family never vote any one until they respect our vote as we saw over the past elections those who have money can get the chair even if he get less vote. i predict the next election would be full of errors and there is no any one in Afghanistan to vote him for the president....

    November 12, 2012 @ 04:11:16AM Basher Ahmad Sahil
  • ISLAM NOT ALLOW A WOMEN FOR POLITICAL ACTIVITIES REMIND IT?

    November 12, 2012 @ 03:11:25AM DR HASNAN
  • If dear lady Fuzia defend her compatriots, as well as her country as a mother, and if she leads Afghanistan toward peace and stability, then I agree with her. The nation isn’t only for men. Moreover, the motherland has the same nobility as our mothers. Hence, if dear Fuzia is a mother herself, she can undoubtedly fulfill her duties.

    November 10, 2012 @ 09:11:25PM Eng-Samiullah.samimi
  • I think this is a good time for change, and I personally will vote for Fawzia Koofi if she is one of the candidates. I have listened to her interviews, she is always the voice of all Afghans, she thinks and tells what people of Afghanistan thinks and tell. I am sure she will be a good president for Afghanistan. Go Fawzia Go

    November 10, 2012 @ 04:11:38AM Hashmat
  • Good Luck for Fauzia Koofi. All our best wishes and that will bring a good change in the region.All the best

    November 8, 2012 @ 01:11:29AM HAROON BANDUKDA
  • regards

    November 4, 2012 @ 06:11:50AM shahin
  • i kike this add and i appreciate this segment

    November 2, 2012 @ 04:11:30AM sajid mehmood
  • its for me know that you my beloved had submitted the application for presdacy in afghanistan . i want to see women in afghanistn as presedent in upcoming election.thank u

    November 1, 2012 @ 04:11:09AM gul nawaz
  • MALALA I AM SO PROUD OF YOU.

    October 30, 2012 @ 11:10:47AM nayyer zamam
  • i think although things have drastically changed even in afghan society,yet afghans wont approve a female president.If we even sweep aside this undeniable fact,Fawzia koofi still cant win the popular vote as she hails from northren areas and people from southren areas are not going to see a president neither a male nor a female therefrom.

    October 29, 2012 @ 12:10:40PM M kamran
  • I and my family pay vote to koofi

    October 29, 2012 @ 06:10:57AM Noor
  • ALL THE BEST WISHES FOR MRS KOOFI TO BECOME PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN.......

    October 28, 2012 @ 10:10:29PM Z.A.NASIR
  • Salam sister! we hope that we have sisters like you but you must trust us because we as a Muslims and Afghan fought for the sake of our country we have sacrificed ourselves for you and it so now you are requested to serve us in our homes inside not in parliment or not in chair so we again again request you to apprise others afghan women to leave politics because Afghan woman are better to be inside

    October 24, 2012 @ 01:10:38PM Zaland
  • it is good

    October 23, 2012 @ 12:10:10AM Mobin
  • may you succeed

    October 22, 2012 @ 11:10:30AM muhammad khan
  • As I think it is impossible that Fawzai koofi win the upcoming presidential election in Afghanistan thus Afghanistan is a tradition country and most of its residents dont like to have a woman as president therfore woman cant lead afghan nation

    October 22, 2012 @ 02:10:25AM abdul hakim
  • pakistan is a peautiful country

    October 20, 2012 @ 04:10:46AM mujahid
  • If the respected Fuzia Jan can defend her compatriots and her country as a mother in order to lead Afghanistan to peace and stability, then I will agree with her. The reason is that the nation is not only for men. In addition, a nation is like a mother. Therefore, if Fuzia Jan has the prestige of a mother, she can proceed successfully with her duties.

    October 18, 2012 @ 02:10:32PM ahmadshekibbarati
  • this should have happened and operation should be carried against Taliban who did this.

    October 18, 2012 @ 02:10:14PM qudoos ch
  • beutiful passion i nlike this

    October 12, 2012 @ 11:10:32AM dildar ali
  • You people are very worried about afghan woman to become president. You should only think about your humiliating defeat at the hands of brave Taalbaan. You american genetic liers and bloody aggressors.

    October 11, 2012 @ 09:10:22PM babar ali
  • Kofi Jan, As I know, you are still a students of politics in one of the private Institute.The US encouraged you as a condidate to show the nomnating democracy. My question is, that the international force can not move freely on the streat, how can you run a country as awoman, while you are not able to travell to Badakhshan. My be your brother who are in the jail as a criminal will support you. Good luck

    October 10, 2012 @ 03:10:31AM Haroon Khurasani
  • Kufi Sahib, I agree with you. We are proud to have a brave lady like you.

    October 10, 2012 @ 02:10:10AM esmat
  • America being being powerful only state on this universe settle all odds. Today we have suffered one more time that our villiant girl/daughter/sister from swat was injured by bullet who was against Titanic Mullahs with certain exceptions. She was school going girl and against stopping girls from going to school when her school was demolishe she taught other fellow students in her home and stood steadfast against those who were against girls rights to learn present knowledge. Afghan girls may not be facing same dilema but they can support her country woman if has courage to face all powerful people . God bless her endavoursand hope what future holds for her.

    October 9, 2012 @ 04:10:09PM alinadeem
  • Assalamu Alaikum

    October 9, 2012 @ 07:10:19AM sajidafridi
  • i like the afghan women in the politics becuse they have a big role in afghan sosiety.thay want rebuild afghanistan and have intrest in the field of education,thay want to change the mind of afghan women towards the education and better future.

    October 9, 2012 @ 03:10:13AM naram khan
  • yes now afghanistan need also a women president.

    October 9, 2012 @ 03:10:07AM rehanali
  • i like afghan peopal

    October 8, 2012 @ 06:10:18AM ahmadmureed