Book Website + Personal Insights by the Author



In the vein of Infidel comes this spellbinding memoir of survival

and courage from Afghanistan’s most popular female politician




On the day Fawzia Koofi was born, her mother set her under the blazing

Afghan sun to die. She was the nineteenth child of twenty-three in a family

with seven wives, and her mother did not want another daughter. Despite

severe burns that lasted into her teenage years, Fawzia survived and became

the favourite child.


In Letters to My Daughters, Fawzia tells her remarkable life story. Fawzia’s

father was an incorruptible politician strongly attached to Afghan tradition.

When he was murdered by the mujahedeen, Fawzia’s illiterate mother decided

to send the ten-year-old girl to school, and as the civil war raged, Fawzia

dodged bullets and snipers to attend class, determined to be the first person in

her family to receive an education.


She went on to marry a man she loved, and they had two cherished daughters,

Shohra and Shaharzad. Tragically, the arrival of the Taliban spelled an

end to her freedom. Outraged and deeply saddened by the injustice she saw

around her, and by the tainting of her Islamic faith, Fawzia discovered politics



Fawzia opens each chapter with a letter she has written to her two

daughters in which she passes on her wisdom about justice and dignity, not

knowing whether she will survive to see them again. In writing Letters to My

Daughters, Fawzia has created a fresh take on Afghan society and Islam, and a

gripping account of a life lived under the most harrowing of circumstances.

fawzia koofi is a member of parliament in Afghanistan’s northern

Badakhshan province.


Prior to this she worked with unicef and various

ngos as a women’s and children’s advocate. In 2009 she was chosen as a

Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. She will run as a presidential

candidate in 2014. She is writing the book with Nadene Ghouri, an

award-winning bbc journalist and former Al Jazeera reporter who specializes

in the Middle East.



Letters to My Daughters is Actually a Letter to the World

By Fawzia Koofi

My book, Letters to my Daughters is actually a letter to the world. Some readers might find my story sad and depressing and perhaps too personal because it raises questions about my family and my life. Moreover, there may be people in my life who dislike the revelatory nature of what I have to say about women and my community. Some of them might see it as a complaint or betrayal. But this is a risk I was willing to undertake for the sake of my community, my beautiful country: our Afghanistan. When a woman complains about her life, it’s seen as a disgrace to her family, but I did it anyway. I pinned my heart to my sleeve; I took that risk and revealed with honesty and integrity, the truth of my journey.

I’ve come a long way passing many challenges, trials and sorrows along the road. From my humble beginnings as an outspoken female child in a misogynist society that did not value the female voice, to a voice for the vulnerable, defenseless and victimized community of women in Afghanistan today. My struggle began the day I was born.

Throughout my journey, I came to believe in myself. And I was determined to believe that things would never be the same in my country. I wanted to effect positive change. My entire life (and my losses) was a preparation readying me to challenge the status quo and experience social change in Afghanistan--albeit painful. I thought earning an education would be the key to breaking the prison of our societies’ unequal treatment of women; I’d thought education would bring misery to an end. My determination not only helped me, it propelled me into a leadership role. I became a policy maker in my country, in order to provide a better quality of life for other women: the voiceless, the vulnerable who are being left behind.

Now, we the mothers of Afghanistan are holding a newborn child in our arms. Taking good care of her. When she was born sometime in October 2001 we named her DEMOCRACY. Ever vigilant, we stay awake nights, we worry during the day making sure she is safe. We think it’s a God given miracle that we are raising this child while the whole world backs President Karzai’s liaison with the Taliban where we believe she, our newborn, will be handed over for execution.

The world should understand that women of Afghanistan won’t give up the little taste of freedom that we have gained in such a very difficult, conflict-ridden time. We quite simply cannot afford to go backwards and accept life under the Taliban’s barbaric form of government. This is not my opinion. It’s the belief of millions of women and men in this country. We are not relying on any other country. We are not helpless victims cravenly asking others to look after us and protect our rights. We are an unarmed community of women who comprise half of Afghan society; we’ve never been involved in destruction and wars in our country. On the contrary, we give birth; we create life. Therefore, the only request we make of world leaders is that they desist the practice of backing religious fanatics who threaten and enslave women--these same fanatics who would gleefully abduct and murder our nascent DEMOCRACY. We are unarmed and have the right to self-determination, autonomy. Being unarmed does not mean we want others to decide our destiny for us but we expect the world to listen--so that we may continue to nurse and nurture our infant child.

Letters to my Daughters is not  a story about my life. It’s about the life of every Afghan woman. I document our life story to draw a clear image of our struggles so the world understands what we are enduring and what is being threatened. The story was like an ocean on my shoulders that I carried around for decades, for my entire life. I had a lot to say and I felt it was the right time to speak up.