Without women’s rights in Afghanistan, democracy will never be complete, veteran Afghan politician Fawzia Koofi told Al Arabiya in an exclusive interview shortly before an assassination attempt was made on her life earlier last month.
Koofi, a prominent women’s rights advocate and member of the Afghan team tasked with negotiating with the Taliban, sustained minor injuries in an attack on August 15 in Kabul by unknown gunmen.
Days earlier, Koofi sat down with Al Arabiya’s senior anchor Maysoon Noueihed in Kabul as part of the network’s series of exclusive interviews with Afghan leaders ahead of planned intra-Afghan peace talks with the Taliban.
“We have to make sure that women's issue is incorporated into any stage during the agreement because I think women's rights in Afghanistan are interconnected with many progress, with freedom of speech, for instance, with freedom of political gatherings and political participation. So, if you really ignore women's rights in this process, that means democracy is not completed. That means other freedoms and values will also be undermined,” Koofi told Al Arabiya.
Afghan officials described the attack on Koofi’s life last month as an assassination attempt, although a spokesman for the Taliban denied any involvement.
Koofi is part of a government-mandated team of negotiators tasked with facing and meeting with the Taliban to agree on a deal that would mark another attempt to reach a long-term ceasefire after the country’s 18 years of war. The team includes five women, including Koofi.
“As a woman member of the negotiation team, my expectation is that the public in Afghanistan should not expect only that for a woman member of this negotiation team to talk about women's rights during the talks. Women’s rights are interconnected to democracy, to freedom of speech, to how the future government of Afghanistan will be. So, therefore, I think that matter for a woman is not just for women. It's about all the values,” she told Al Arabiya.