Fawzia Koofi was left to die as an infant just because she was born female. She grew up grateful for her life, however, and she studied hard and earned a degree in Afghanistan. Fawzia broke barriers and challenged the norms; as a result, she became the first Afghan woman to ever hold the position of Second Deputy Speaker of the Afghan Parliament.
She authored “Letters to my Daughters,” a memoir dedicated to her two teenage kids, Shuhra and Shaharzad. It chronicled the significant daily battles she faced as a single mom and female politician in a country as oppressive as Afghanistan.
Another book followed: “The Favored Daughter: One Woman's Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future,” co-written with Nadene Ghouri. Below is an excerpt:
"They often try to kill me.
Recently they have tried even harder than usual to murder me, threatening my home, tracking my journeys to work so they can lay a bomb as my car passes, even firing on a convoy of police vehicles that was supposed to protect me. One recent gun attack on my car lasted for 30 minutes, killing two policemen. I stayed inside the vehicle, not knowing if I would be alive or dead when it was over.
I know the Taliban and those others who seek to silence me for speaking out against corruption and bad leadership in my country will not be happy until I am dead.
But on this day I ignored the threat. I have ignored countless similar threats, because if I didn't, I could not do my job.
But I felt the threat. I always feel it. That's the very nature of threat, and those who threaten know that.
I awoke my eldest daughter, Shaharzad, who is twelve, at 6:00 a.m. and told her that if I didn't come home from this trip in a few days, she was to read the letter to her ten-year-old younger sister, Shuhra. Shaharzad's eyes, full of questions, met mine. I placed my finger to her lips and kissed her and her sleeping sister on the forehead as I quietly left the room and closed the door.
I regularly tear myself away from my children to do my work, despite knowing I might well be murdered. But my job is to represent the poorest people of my nation. That purpose, along with raising my two beautiful daughters, is what I live for. I could not on that day, and will not ever, let my people down." (SOURCE: NPR)
Fawzia was selected as a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum in 2009 and was re-elected in the parliamentary elections the following year. She will run for Afghanistan’s highest political seat in 2018.