The latest in our series of Open House Talks brings together two women who are using their experience and expertise to demand a better future for women in Afghanistan. In conversation with Dr Edit Schlaffer, Fawzia Koofi and Zarqa Yaftali highlight the devastating removal of women from public life in Afghanistan, as well as the courage of a young generation who have risen up to fight against this. Together they call for the world to actively challenge the Taliban regime and for the urgent inclusion of women’s voices in negotiations.
Fawzia Koofi is a former member of parliament and was elected as the first woman Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament in Afghanistan. From 2010-2019, she chaired the parliament’s standing committee on women and human rights. In addition to serving in parliament, she has championed numerous women’s initiatives, including pushing through progressive laws on violence against women and establishing a gender budget that promoted women and girls’ education. Ms Koofi fled Afghanistan after being put under house arrest by the Taliban and has since met with world leaders, international organisations, and civil society, to advocate for women’s rights in Afghanistan. Most recently, she was a member of peace negotiation team representing the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Doha.
Zarqa Yaftali is a peace builder and advocate for women’s and children’s rights in Afghanistan. Since 2007, she has served as Executive Director of the Women and Children Legal Research Foundation, where she has conducted legal and field research in Afghanistan on a number of topics including violence and discrimination against women and girls, access to education, and women’s participation in the peace process. In October 2020, on the occasion of the 20th-anniversary of UNSCR 1325, she was selected to represent civil society and deliver a brief at the UN Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security. She is currently conducting research on the situation of women in Afghanistan and is implementing a baseline survey about women’s voices and leadership in humanitarian settings in Afghanistan.