Dr Habiba Sarabi, a trailblazing leader of Women rights

A trailblazing leader and one among the four women involved in negotiating peace with the Taliban forces in war torn Afghanistan, Dr Habiba Sarabi has got mentioned in the “20 Years of Women, Peace, Power” of UN Women on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325.

It is her relentless struggle for peace and promotion of rights of women that prompted the UN women to include her one among the “20 Years of Women, Peace, Power” .

A hematologist, Dr Habiba Sarabi turned to be a peace activist, politician and reformer. She was the Minister for Women’s Affairs and also the first Afghan woman to become a governor.

On her early life, the Afghan leader said that the only thing that she wanted in her childhood was to go to school. But her father was not interested in giving her education. But she says that her stubborn character and determination had made her attend the school. In 1996, she remembers that her city of Kabul was attacked by the Taliban forces. And the Taliban had shut women and children in the homes and women were stopped from working. Dr Habiba Sarabi notes that she fled with her children to Pakistan and her husband stayed back in Kabul.

Though reached neighbouring Pakistan, she said that she could not stand while other women were suffering back in her country. This made her trek the border mountains in secrecy. She set up an underground network of school for girls. And back in Pakistan, she used to   work with civil society organizations in refugee camps.

After the fall of the Taliban in 2001, she returned to her country and was appointed Minister of Women’s Affairs by the Afghan Interim Administration. Later in 2005, she was appointed governor, a distinction for any woman leader at that time.

With years going on, she sees that much change has happened in her country. The women of today were not the same as earlier, she said and added that the women folk are now much organised and mobilised. Dr Habiba Sarabi mentions that social media had played an important role in raising the voice of women.

On her role in participating in the peace talks between the Afghan Government and Taliban, she said that the country would not see lasting peace if women are not involved in the process. However, she says that violence against women, sexual harassment and murders were happening more in Afghanistan now. She says that this was only for silencing the peace efforts.



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