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Female Mayor in Afghanistan Anticipates Her Impending Assassination

The first female mayor of Maidan Shar in the Wardak Province of Afghanistan is aware of the high price she will pay as a result of taking the job, telling the New York Times, “I know I will be assassinated.” Mayor Zarifa Ghafari is 26 years old.

She represents a conservative town of 35,000 citizens, many of whom support the Taliban. She’s only recently been able to step into her new role due her term being delayed nine months after her first day of work in the summer of 2018 was one met with aggression and violence, committed by supporters of the province’s male governor who opposed her appointment. It’s a day she recalls as the worst day of her life.

Her male colleagues don’t take her seriously, meetings with municipal officials as of late consist of Ghafari being mocked, dismissed and ignored and she has no bodyguards protecting her. Despite it all, she’s determined to make a difference. 

“When a lady wants to work in a very conservative society, she has to hide her real personality,” she told a reporter. “She must be harsh or no one will listen to her. I need to prove to them that women are not weak.”

Ghafari may not be able to change the culture of toxic masculinity in her region but she is making a difference, with one male colleague advocating for her work so far on a road project. “That project was stopped for 12 years, and she is here for a month and it’s restarted. She may be a woman, but she is powerful.”

Ghafari has made a decision to push through every obstacle in front of her. She faces the same discrimination, bias and threats to her life as the female political candidates do in Columbia, and women everywhere in the political sphere.

I admire her courage and perseverance in the face in the danger. I can't help but think of the current feminist rallying cry, "Nevertheless, she persisted."

Please read more about this fascinating story from the New York Times