Conflict Alerts

Conflict Alerts # 171, 8 October 2020

Afghan woman politician nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
Fatemah Ghafori

In the news
On 5 October Fawzia Koofi, the first woman Deputy Speaker of Afghanistan, was declared to be nominated for the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize by the Nobel committee. The prize is due to be announced on 9 October. 

The Norwegian Peace Council, an umbrella NGO of 20 Norwegian Peace organizations in Oslo, released its list of five frontrunners for the Nobel Peace Prize, choosing Koofi as the top favourite, out of a total number of 318 candidates.

As a member of the team of delegates engaging with the Taliban, Fawzia remains one of the prominent faces, advocating women's rights in the talks in Doha. 

Issues at large
First, the role played by the women negotiators in the intra-Afghan talks. The Afghan government had appointed four women - Fatemah Gilani, Fawzia Koofi, Habibeh Sarabi, and Sharifa Zurmati as part of the negotiating team and all the four have vowed to push for women's rights in any deal with the Taliban. The four have become the beacon of hope for the Afghan women who see that this team would be a channel through which their voices would be heard.  

Second, Koofi represents the everyday struggle of the Afghan women. Koofi is a politician, women rights activist, leader of the "Wave of Transformation" party and served as a member of the Parliament in Afghanistan. Koofi had survived an attack by unidentified gunmen in August and also in March 2010, when she was the deputy speaker of the Parliament. She has also been targeted by the Taliban when she went to the eastern province of Nangarhar to commemorate women's day. During the Taliban's stay in power (1996-2001), her father and brother were killed. Life became more difficult when the Taliban imprisoned Fawzia Koofi's husband, who later died of tuberculosis while in prison. In honour of her husband, she never married again. Koofi, a victim of the war in Afghanistan, comes from among the people and feels the exact pain that each Afghan women feel today.  

Third, nomination is a step towards honouring women peacebuilders.  While women's participation in the peace process is among the most important issues, remembering and honouring women's struggles has an important message to the world. This nomination coveys the message of the world's support and honour of Afghan women activists and women's meaningful participation in the peace process and decision making. Koofi wrote in her Facebook "Most of this honour goes back to the common, long, and peaceful struggles of the Afghan people, especially the women of this country people who are both victims and have great forgiveness."

In perspective
The nomination of Koofi for the Nobel Peace Prize is a great honour and achievement for all women in Afghanistan and South Asia. Afghan women hope that Koofi wins the award, and are waiting for the announcement of the winner will be made in Oslo by the Norwegian Nobel Committee on 9 October. Her win will undoubtedly have a direct impact on stability and human rights in her Afghanistan. This would encourage women's meaningful presence in the long-term peace process, and their stand for human rights and democracy, which many women feel has been eroding in the talks with the Taliban. 

Even if she doesn't win, her nomination carries a symbolic achievement.

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