Updated 3/25/20 @ 12:46pm
The mayor of Maidan Shar, a city some 28 miles in the southern outskirts of Kabul, was attacked by four armed men, believed to be members of the Taliban. The armed men opened fire at her car while she was on her way home last Sunday. Mayor Zarifa Ghafari was recently awarded the International Women of Courage Award by the State Department in early March. She returned to Kabul last week after spending some time in the U.S. receiving the award and advocating for women’s human rights, democracy, and preserving the achievements of the nearly last two decades in Afghanistan.
Ms. Ghafari was appointed to the position of the mayor of Maidan Shar city in July 2018. She faced Taliban threats and opposition from other local politicians for her appointment because of her sex that a woman could not lead a city. She could not begin her tenure until March of 2019. On her first day in office, a mob chased her away, refusing her authority as a woman. However, after her hard work in office and working closely with the local people, she has since been welcomed and much admired by the locals for her hard work in urban development. Her city has over half a million residents.
Despite continuous death threats to Mayor Ghafari, she has continued to do her job as well as raise her voice against extremism and the rights of women. Shortly after the attack, she tweeted for safely escaping the attack and that she will continue to speak up for the “republic, democracy, human rights and women’s rights,” and that she will not give up speaking for these values.
The attack on Mayor Ghafari was condemned by many Afghans as well as Sec. Pompeo of State Department and U.S. Charge d’Affaires, Ross Wilson . Mr. Wilson added that “Americans stand with you and all others working for a peaceful, tolerant, forward-looking Afghanistan.” Mr. Wilson has largely been criticized by ignoring the killing of Afghan security personnel late last week at the hands of the Taliban despite entering a so-called peace deal with the U.S.
Early this month, during her speech at the State Department, Mayor Ghafari emphasized that she and the women of Afghanistan do not want to go back to the Taliban rule when all basic human rights were taken from women. In her speech, she called on the Trump Administration to ensure that women’s rights are protected in talks with the Taliban. She appeared alarmed by the so-called peace deal between the U.S. and the Taliban that does not recognize the Afghan government or guarantee human rights, women’s rights and preserving the Constitution of Afghanistan that establishes a republic.
Mayor Ghafari pursued her bachelors and masters’ in Economics and Urban Development. At 26, she is the first of two women and the youngest mayor in Afghanistan and has become a role model for the local women as well as women across the country.
Twitter, 3/23/20 and 3/24/20