A moving and inspiring memoir by Afghanistan's youngest female mayor and campaigner for human rights.
I am one of the lucky ones.
I got out of Afghanistan alive when the Taliban retook the country. Millions of others did not – they are now living under one of the world's most repressive regimes, with any progress that was made for women over the past twenty years being brutally reversed.
Every day, I yearn for my motherland. Now it is my duty to make sure that the world knows what is happening to women there, and what we must do to change things for them.
Zarifa Ghafari was three years old when the Taliban banned girls from schools, and she began her education in secret. She was seven when American airstrikes began. She was twenty-six when she became mayor – the only female mayor in the country – of Maidan Wardak, Kabul. An extremist mob barred her from her office; her male staff walked out in protest; assassins tried to kill her six times. Finally, they killed their father. Ghafari stood her ground. She ended corruption in the province, promoted peace and tried to lift up women, despite constant fear for herself and her family. When the Taliban took Kabul in 2021, Ghafari had to flee, narrowly escaping the country on one of the last flights out of Kabul and finding refuge in Germany.
Zarifa is an astonishing memoir that offers an unparalleled perspective of the last two decades in Afghanistan. Written with honesty, pain and ultimately, hope, Ghafari describes the work she did, the women she still tries to help as they live under Taliban rule and her vision for how grassroots activism can change their lives and the lives of women everywhere.