Azra Jafari Biography
NOTE: I apologize for the limited information on Mayor Azra Jafari, but due to the simple fact that (a) the government in Afghanistan has been, to a degree, unstable for the majority of the past decade and (b) just as Ms. Jafari said herself, “Afghan society has not yet become a society which can accept that women are able to do this job,” the information available on her is slim.
Mayor Azra Jafari
Thirty year old Azra Jafari was appointed by Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai in December 2008 to be the mayor of Nili – the capital city of the Dai Kundi province.
This appointment signified a dramatic and decisive change, on Karzai’s part, of the mentality of women and politics in Afghanistan. Jarfari is the first female mayor in Afghanistan, a society and political realm predominantly in the hands of men.
Jafari was living in Iran when Afghanistan was controlled by the Taliban because “women were banned from school and the workplace, [and] many women, such as Jafari, moved to neighbouring countries such as Pakistan and Iran for education or work.” * She returned to Afghanistan in 2001, when the United States and Afghan forces toppled the Taliban government.
Since returning Jafari has published two books on women and politics in Afghanistan. She was a contributor in the first, The Making of the New Constitution of Afghanistan, published in 2003, which discusses the political system and process in Afghanistan. The second, in which she was the sole author, I am a Working Woman, discusses “‘the rights of Afghan women in the labor market and in the labor laws,’” † was published in 2008.
The two main objectives that Mayor Jafari has for her town and province are improving safety for all and improving women’s rights. The province of Dai Kundi is much safer when compared to other provinces throughout Afghanistan because it is surrounded by mountains that make it difficult for insurgents to penetrate. However, because the Taliban and other insurgent groups have a near zero hold in the province, no international aid, arms, or military personnel are sent to Dai Kundi. In Jafari’s eyes however, “‘Dai Kundi is a province that needs every type of help available, international organisations [sic] need to help us too. We need roads, schools, libraries, employment.’” * As far as women’s rights go, Jafari believes that they have worsened since Afghanistan switched from the transitional government of 2002 to 2004, to the parliamentary system (for more on Azra Jafari’s work for women’s rights click here to read an article about her participation in Dai Kundi’s "International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women” ceremony).
Azra Jafari continues to be the mayor Nili, yet also remains to be the only female mayor in Afghanistan.
* Motevalli, Golna
† "Azra Jafari"