Marzia Rocks the Vote
Karte Seh, Kabul, Afghanistan
Marzia is both smart and beautiful. We coordinated our meeting via text in perfect English, and while I showed up dishevelled, shivering and tugging at the hijab I definitely did not have the hang of, she was a vision of style and grace.
Marzia lives with her family in this quieter, more "suburban" area of Kabul, a place where her and many other offices are in converted homes. She is a university grad, and spent some of her schooling time in the States. She is one of the many who have had the freedom of going to the states for education or to visit relatives, and then return to Afghanistan out of a love for their country and the desire to do their part to make it better.
Marzia has used her smarts and skill set to increase votership, and to monitor the elections to make sure that people receive their right to vote. She works at FEFA, Free and Fair Elections for Afghanistan, an agency which serves to promote democracy in Afghanistan, observe the elections, and encourage youth and female political participation. She personally is repsonsible for the females who act as watchdogs on the election process, women who report back from all areas of the country. This last election, there were 308 women running for offices in different provincial areas. Marzia created a report interviewing all of the female candidates, inquiring after the treatment/harrassment they might be receiving as female political candidates. I read it, it was an impressive document!
I was in Kabul just before the election this year, which was the first democratic shift of power to happen in Afghanistan, so Marzia was very busy when I visited. She was very kind and talented, clearly a strong, hard-working woman. The kind that the country needs if change is to come.
I had to take a raincheck on having lunch with her mother and herself, but I plan on getting back to Afghanistan, if for no other reason than to redeem that offer and spend more time with this woman, and to meet the woman who brought her into this world.