Female Afghan Mayor Fights Crime With A Fake Moustache

Zarifa QazizadahZarifa Qazizadah was married at 10, had her first child at 15, and lived for many years in a remote village of Afghanistan, as little more than a servant to her husband's family. Today, when danger strikes, the mother of 15 will yank on some men's clothing and a fake moustache and ride on her motorbike through her village, reports the BBC.

Because she is a mayor -- or what they call "village head."

When Qazizadah told the men in Naw Abad, in the northern province of Balkh, that she wanted to be mayor in 2004, they laughed. When she promised to hook the village up to electricity, they laughed harder. She lost the election. But with a bit of cash that she made selling some of her jewelry, she traveled to Afghanistan's capital city of Kabul with her 4-year-old daughter in tow, and knocked on the door of the minister of power. He agreed to meet the next day, and by the end of the meeting, he gave Qazizadah's request the OK.

Battling Tribal Tradition
First Qazizadah had to remortgage her house, however, and borrow money all over the place to pay for the power poles and cables. But within five months, Naw Abad was hooked up to the grid. The revenue from the electricity was used to build a bridge that now connects the village to a major road. In 2006, the men asked Qazizadah to apply to be mayor again. She did, and she's now the second woman to become a village head in Afghanistan.

It's an impressive feat for a woman in rural Afghanistan, where tribal mores still hold strong. Social Watch ranked Afghanistan the lowest out of 157 countries in its 2012 Gender Equity Index. According to the United Nations, only a quarter of Afghan women over the age of 15 can read and write.

Zarifa Qazizadah shows a photo of herself with her husband twenty years ago

And very few Afghan women drag Jeeps out of ditches with a tractor, or dare to grab a gun and hop on a motorbike when there's word of a disturbance in the middle of the night.

"She does the type of work that even men are not capable of doing," Molavi Seyyed Mohammad, a local man, told the BBC.

Since the Taliban's fall in 2001, an independent-minded generation of women has emerged in Afghanistan, including Meena Rahmani, who opened the country's first bowling alley in Kabul in 2011. Seventy-two percent of Afghan women said their lives were better now than a decade ago, according to a recent survey by the charity, Action Aid. And women hold 68 seats in the Afghan parliament.

But this number is so high because there's a constitutionally mandated quota. These women are often beholden to local warlords, and their power is typically limited.

Afghan women have also seen recent setbacks, and worse. In March, the country's leading religious body, the Ulema Council, announced an edict, which President Hamid Karzai promptly endorsed, that certified women as "secondary" to men, and demanded that they must respect polygamy and never travel without a male escort. In the northern part of the country, 160 schoolgirls were poisoned last week in what's believed to be a campaign to intimidate young girls from getting educated.

Eighty-six percent of Afghan women fear a return to Taliban-style rule, and talented young women are fleeing the country en masse.

But this makes the small successes of a woman like Qazizadah all the more significant. She's currently bankrolling her village's first mosque, which will be laid out, unlike most mosques across the country, so that men and women can pray together.




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susan

When is the USA going to not give money to countries that treat women with such distain. If Karzi wants our help then he will have move forward in time and not back. I dont think any country should be supported by our government when human rights arent met.

May 31 2012 at 12:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bobluc

The 'civilized' countries ought to stop arming those already in power and stay there through violence and killing. Give those arms to the women and the children from 4 - 9yrs old.

May 30 2012 at 11:35 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Travis John

No woman should have a job as a crime fighter! It's too dangerous! Whoever doesn't like my statement can kiss my a-double-s!

May 30 2012 at 10:12 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Travis John's comment
Welcome Don

A kick woul be more like it. Grow up kid.

May 30 2012 at 11:37 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
John Walters

Shave the uni-brow, I hope she does well. Yes, if this was a man with a uni-brow I have said the same thing.

May 30 2012 at 9:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dickn2000b

The only real discrepancy In could find with this story is that the mayor's moustache is not fake.

May 30 2012 at 7:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cactive10

Wow! I think that's great! I hope she doesn't get in trouble, now that her secret is revealed. The men are mean, and seem to think women are worth nothing. I hope more women stand up, because the men are doing a terrible job.

May 30 2012 at 5:15 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cactive10's comment
l0b0chic0

Men don't think they are worth nothing. They are great at procreation, washing cloths, dishes and cleaning the house. Another thing they are not worthless they can be used as a bad example when they do not know their place.

May 30 2012 at 8:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to l0b0chic0's comment
l0b0chic0

And this woman's place is Mayor. Good job.

May 30 2012 at 8:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
dmpolis

They say if you need a good man for the job hire a women.

May 30 2012 at 5:13 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dmpolis's comment
l0b0chic0

Ah yes, behind every good man there is a good woman. Unfortunately behind every monster there is usually a female monster.

May 30 2012 at 8:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tammy

She's awesome!!! What a great role model for the young women over there....you go girl!!!

May 30 2012 at 4:57 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
babyzillah

She rocks!

Cory Booker has met his match!

May 30 2012 at 3:03 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Ladyrainfb

If you read closely, she has been Mayor or more correctly "Village Head" since 2006. NOT a flash in the pan

May 30 2012 at 2:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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