Afghan Biographies

Jafari, Fatima Mrs.

Name Jafari, Fatima Mrs.
Ethnic backgr. Hazara
Date of birth 1982
Function/Grade Provincial Council Herat Member
History and Biodata

2. Previous Function:
Provincial Council Herat Member 2009
Provincial Council Herat Member 2014

3. Biodata:
Mrs. Fatema Jafari was born 1982 in central Afghanistan and is part of the Hazara ethnic minority. She was a Refugee, underground teacher, midwife, women's rights activist, politician and mother. Fatema started life as a refugee, fleeing to Iran as a young child with her family. 

Iran meant not only safety, but also the possibility of an education. However, scores of Afghan refugee children were denied that luxury. Finding the situation intolerable, a teenage Fatema volunteered to tutor a couple of children from her family home. News soon spread in the Afghan refugee community and children flocked to her home. Her father became one of her main detractors, but not because he disagreed with Fatema's work: what she was doing was illegal.


Life changed in 2001, when a US-led military operation curbed the Taliban. Fatema and her family were allowed to return to Afghanistan. Finally able to study at university, Fatema became a midwife. Midwifery is one of the few professional fields in Afghanistan dominated by women, meaning her work as midwife led her to some of the more remote areas of Herat, the country's second-largest province.

In 2009 Fatema was working as a midwifery teacher, when she decided to run for a seat on Herat's provincial council.  Despite her husband's support, it took her three months to convince the rest of her family, torn between concerns for her honour and concerns for her safety.

Campaigning was a struggle. No political party would back a female candidate. Her family was not rich. A local politician toured mosques, mockingly telling worshippers not to vote for her. Undeterred, Fatema turned to her students, enlisting 100 volunteers to campaign door-to-door. However, campaigning in urban Herat was not enough. The Taliban started sending her daily threats, stopping her from visiting the rural areas of the region. Fatema Jafari won the election, placing 9th out of 184 candidates. Now one of 19 representatives, she chairs the Family Support Committee.

Previously she participated in three loya jirgas (consultative councils) from 2010–2013. She has worked on several advocacy campaigns opposing violence against women and has pressed for greater respect for women’s rights at the national level. During her fellowship, Ms. Jafari plans to identify key barriers to women’s political participation in Afghanistan and assess how women may overcome them. As a culmination of her research, she hopes to develop a training manual for civil society activists, students, and public officials showcasing ways of strengthening women’s political participation in Afghanistan.

n 2016, she was a Greenberg World Fellow at Yale University.

Now at the European University Institute in the Florence, Fatema is using her time to write her second book.

She is married.

Fatima speaks Dari and English.

Last Modified 2020-03-06
Established 2020-03-06