The Favored Daughter: One Womans Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future


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It is also one of the poorest, wildest, most remote, and culturally conservative provinces in all of Afghanistan. Badakhshan has the highest rate of maternal mortality and child mortality in the entire world, due in part to its inaccessibility and crippling poverty, but also in part to a culture that sometimes puts tradition ahead of women's health. A man will rarely seek hospital treatment for his wife unless it's clear she won't survive otherwise. With childbirth, this often means a woman may undergo three or four days of agonizing labor.

By the time she reaches a hospital — often on the back of a donkey after traveling over rocky mountain tracks — it is usually too late to save both mother and child. On the day I wrote the letter I was warned not to travel because there had been a credible threat that the Taliban planned to kill me by planting an improvised explosive device a roadside bomb underneath my car. The Taliban dislike women holding such powerful positions in government as I do, and they dislike my public criticisms even more.

Recently they have tried even harder than usual to murder me, threatening my home, tracking my journeys to work so they can lay a bomb as my car passes, even firing on a convoy of police vehicles that was supposed to protect me. One recent gun attack on my car lasted for 30 minutes, killing two policemen.

I stayed inside the vehicle, not knowing if I would be alive or dead when it was over. I know the Taliban and those others who seek to silence me for speaking out against corruption and bad leadership in my country will not be happy until I am dead. But on this day I ignored the threat. I have ignored countless similar threats, because if I didn't, I could not do my job. But I felt the threat. I always feel it. That's the very nature of threat, and those who threaten know that. I awoke my eldest daughter, Shaharzad, who is twelve, at 6: Shaharzad's eyes, full of questions, met mine.

I placed my finger to her lips and kissed her and her sleeping sister on the forehead as I quietly left the room and closed the door. I regularly tear myself away from my children to do my work, despite knowing I might well be murdered. The next time we feel low, nurturing our petty FWPs as my daughter puts it First World Problems we just have to think of these women Do go get a copy and read this one, if you can.

Mar 13, Jenny Tipping rated it really liked it Shelves: Review written for http: The story traces her life from her birth into a patriarchal society in Northern Afghanistan, through the death of her father, himself a prominent and respected politician and the turbulence caused by his assassination. Always ambitious, she goes to school in Kabul during the Soviet and civil war eras but her educati Review written for http: Always ambitious, she goes to school in Kabul during the Soviet and civil war eras but her education is cut short in with the arrival of the Taliban and she returns to her home province of Badakhshan, which is under Northern Alliance control.

From this point she knows her path is to help the people of her country and this leads on to her to work for UNICEF and eventually to becoming a Speaker of the parliament in The main body of the text is first person narrative. It is both factual and emotional. The style is neither excessively arrogant nor annoyingly modest.

She was ambitious, she worked hard, she achieved great success, she has received multiple death threats. She loved her family and her husband passionately and she grieved deeply when she lost them. These are the facts of her reality. She neither shies from them nor revels in them. The chapters are divided by letters to her daughters to be read in the event of her death. Through these she is passing on to her daughters her values, her love of her country and of her Muslim faith, in case they have to grow up without her and without the loving family from whom Fawzia herself learned so much.

I thought initially that the divide between the main chapters and the letters to her daughters would signify the divide between her public persona and her family life. But actually there is no divide. She feels the same powerful maternal instinct towards Afghanistan as she does towards her daughters. What comes across is the strength and determination of Afghan women as they live at the mercy of the men in power.

From the Soviet invasion to the present day the circumstances of Afghan women have alternated between the freedom of the Soviet and post-Taliban eras and the total repression of the Taliban. She is clearly a serious woman and the stories are harrowing, but it is well written with the help of journalist, Nadene Ghouri and gives an insight into an inspiring woman and a remarkable country.


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Jul 10, Julie Dolcemaschio rated it it was ok. This book left a lot of unanswered questions for me, and I put the book down with perhaps three dozen pages left. The story is harrowing, as any story of a woman growing up and living in Afghanistan would be, but throughout the book I never felt as though Koofi understood life outside of Afghanistan enough to actually rule, or lead a country in such a condition as this one.

In short, I didn't buy it, or her.

The Favored Daughter and Why Women Will Save Afghanistan | HuffPost

While she said she was educated, I didn't see it in terms of her knowledge of how the re This book left a lot of unanswered questions for me, and I put the book down with perhaps three dozen pages left. While she said she was educated, I didn't see it in terms of her knowledge of how the rest of the world works, and that her very gender is not respected or hardly acknowledged at all left me cold and, frankly, skeptical of her powers to change things. I appreciated the beauty of the Afghanistan she loves, and I saw her strength shine through every word.

I loved the sense of family she created, and that she was such a devoted wife and is still a devoted mother is noteworthy. She spoke nothing of this practice, and as a children's advocate, this heinous practice of the sexual abuse of boys is not news to her. Overall, I felt that the author spent an inordinate amount of time trying to convince the west that we don't understand. We don't, but Ms. Koofi did little to enlighten us.

Mar 17, Debra rated it really liked it. As some other reviewers did, I saw Ms. Koofi on the Jon Stewart show and went right out and bought the book. I am in the middle of it, but inspired to write a review bc her story is educational, inspiring and worthwhile also sometimes brutal. Many people-- women and men-- supported her in her efforts throughout her life which I probably shouldn't have found surprising, but I did. I seem to hear of so much of the brutality and of women as second class citizen's but it is a much more nuanced soc As some other reviewers did, I saw Ms.

I seem to hear of so much of the brutality and of women as second class citizen's but it is a much more nuanced society. The book reminds me of Ayaan Hirsi Alii's life and her books Infidel and Nomad which were better written and were two of my favorites. This book is an equally important read for me. I want to know about this country and its people that our country has helped, and a story of someone who has fought and overcome challenges is always inspiring to me. A lot of important information about Afghanistan that helps me understand it all better.

She is an amazing person, and even if the book is not superbly written, it is well written, easy to read and interesting. Well worth the time. Mar 02, Mz.

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Diana Gagliardi rated it it was amazing. Amazing book, amazing woman. I now have a much better and deeper understanding of Afghanistan and all it's been through. Seeing it through Afghani eyes and experience creates a much more compelling background for helping and assisting a country that has suffered from far too many people trying to claim it.

We are lucky in our distance and in not having to know what the sounds of war are. Thank you Jon Stewart for making me get it. Jan 23, M. Moonzajer rated it it was amazing. The favored daughter describes the life of an Afghan woman from many angles, which often has been ignored even by media and human rights institutions. Sep 12, Jessica O'Toole rated it liked it Shelves: This book is worth reading for the jigsaw puzzle that is Middle Eastern politics and the kinds of people who are involved or affected by it.

It is difficult to understand exactly what life is like in that part of the world and so drawing on direct experience is always welcome. However, I do wonder how much the co-writer, a BBC journalist, had in 'livening up' the story and introducing such obvious propaganda. I enjoyed reading about Koofi's childhood, and how certain sections Not many spoilers I enjoyed reading about Koofi's childhood, and how certain sections of Afghan society lived, about the different areas of geographical Afghanistan - before being subjected to the Taliban - and also the fact she seems to feel so much love for her country.

The story of her experience of being attacked in her home district, fleeing to Kabul and starting off a better, more equal life for example, being able to go to school , also, in my opinion, needed no extra fluff or attempts to make us 'feel' the emotional content. Readers tend to be good at connecting with stories such as Koofi's, but scraping barrels is too easily observed. The problem is - and this is the unfortunate by-product, I think, of having a journalistic input in a biographical arena - that every time something comes up after the mention of Islam - even the regressive Islam of the Taliban that Koofi objected greatly to - and primarily the subjugation of women, there is a line or two of how these things form a heavy part of Afghan history and how Western people might not quite understand why these things are accepted.

The Favored Daughter

Certainly, Westerners may very well not understand why some actions were taken or not taken , but when writing a biography there should be no need to justify every single thing that we Westerners might take exception to, nor indeed can both sides of different oppressive experiences from a Western view be defended at the same time, when the author herself is opposed to one of them. Indeed, this is why I believe it is more propaganda - the work is too forceful in its attempt to make us understand why women, who are very much aware that things are not right with their place in society, are treated so distastefully in Afghanistan under Islam.

Koofi often mentions about the beatings of her mother by her father, wanting to find a man who respects her more than other women in Afghanistan expect, it seems , and also the fact that when she was in Parliament the men treated her and the other women like second-class citizens. The problem is, that she has spent the whole book up to that point parliament defending the ways of Muslim men and I purposefully point out the Islamic factor because she does so herself pointedly , and so when she is confronted by all these 'traditional' ideas in an arena such as politics she takes great offence to them, as if they should automatically accept her presence, ad against everything she has previously justified.

My respect is fully with her for carrying on and earning the votes that won her the seat, but either you believe in something or you don't. You cannot defend the use of the burqa in your own society and damn it when the Taliban enforces it on women. You cannot defend your father not ever speaking to you but to tell you to go away once and him beating your mother, but object to the way the Taliban treats you as a woman when under their regime, which is not so different.

There are some horrific things, obviously, that the Taliban carried out, but she is very much concerned most of the time with making them - the followers of more conservative Islamism - as the wrong kind of Muslim. It cannot be both ways, and I think that either the author was coached to push the emotional agenda or she is severely conflicted and refusing to accept the things she does not agree with because she does not want to betray what everyone expects of her as a good Muslim woman.

It seems far too much like we are being subjected to some light emotional manipulation so as not see parts of her region and her country for what they are in comparison with our own, and indeed, what Koofi seems to be searching for - she was fighting for Afghanistan to become a democratic, and I would argue, more egalitarian country, after all. Change is very hard, especially the changing and challenging of opinions, however, she could learn something about politics, like her heroines Thatcher and Gandhi.

Actions speak louder than gender. It's extremely unfortunate that this was what I left this book with. Hardly anything of her political career was written about. I would have loved to have heard the kinds of things she was fighting for in that parliament and whether these people who looked down on her changed their views. It's likely I will look into her interviews and appearances to find out a bit more, as I find her interesting, but whichever editor decided it was OK to push so much baseless padding like the letters to loved ones at the beginning of each chapter, which personally gave nothing to the story and disrupted my interest quite a bit on a story that seemed perfectly legitimate without, might leave Koofi needing a new one if literature is going to make up more of her future.

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is not only a wonderful read, it is also a very important book. If she survives, Fawzia Koofi could easily become the next president of Afghanistan. She is now another hero of mine, someone whose life I plan to follow. Somehow she survived and became a favorite daughter, the only girl in her family to get educated. She comes from a culture where women are This is not only a wonderful read, it is also a very important book.

She comes from a culture where women are barely second class citizens. Her father, who had 7 wives, only spoke to Fawzia once before he was assassinated. Her mother accepted physical abuse as a form of attention. Somehow, Fawzia was able to escape rural Afghanistan and move to the city where she was working on her medical degree. Then the Taliban arrived and she was forced to quit her studies. The Taliban allowed no female doctors and women couldn't be treated by a male doctor so, for many years, women had no health care.

While still a newlywed, her new husband was arrested and severely abused. He suffered and finally died from the untreated pneumonia he contacted in prison. One brother was murdered and another escaped. Of the 18 million people in Afghanistan, 6 million died and 6 million fled during the wars. The Pashtanwali area between Pakistan and Afghanistan was open so Koofi's family escaped there for a while.

People flowed freely through the opne borders. The Pahtu people never accepted borders that were created by foreigners.

Insight with Fawzia Koofi- Running for president of Afghanistan

That may be one of the great problem Americans have understanding our relationship with Pakistan. Osama Bin Laden hid for years in this area. Koofi ran for office and is now the first female Speaker of Parliament. She is idealistic but fiercely realistic. To quote, "Afghanistan is awash with corruption, flawed religious extremism, and a river of money from the sea of opium poppies grown on our farmland.

Aug 19, Erin Herzog rated it it was amazing. This book was outstanding! Fawzia Koofi is only a few years older than me but she has lived a life so far removed from that of mine. We learn about her upbringing as a young Afghanistan girl - one who listens and learns from her family elders. We learn about the change of leadership in her country — from a pristine countryside to one that is taken over by Taliban extremists.

Throughout the book, Fawzia writes letters to her young daughters, keeping them informed of her whereabouts and projects that will hopefully change the lives of young people and help build a better Afghanistan. The book left me hopeful that Fawzia will succeed in building a better life for those that are suffering. She inspired me to reach out and do more — especially as we enter an election year — and encourage men and women to use their powerful vote and let their voice be heard. Feb 21, Joyce Scapicchio rated it really liked it.

I am left humbled, horrified, aghast, anxious, dare I think even slightly hopeful after reading Koofi's life so far story Though the writing is not always the best, and the end a little preachy, her story is gripping. From abandonment at birth, through a lifetime of war and discrimination, Koofi persists, and somehow grows into an incredible woman. She has become not just a strong and educated woman, but also a mother and leader in her wor I am left humbled, horrified, aghast, anxious, dare I think even slightly hopeful after reading Koofi's life so far story She has become not just a strong and educated woman, but also a mother and leader in her worn and torn country, a true achievement in spite of the country"s historic repression of females.

Not many would take the risks she took to get her education, or face the hatred and prejudice head-on to fight for a seat at the political table, but she does with grace, and determination, and hope for the future. Her story takes you inside the tumultuous country over the last few decades, and by the end, you understand the problems, the country and the people a lot more. And, I am sorry to say, it may also revive your fear of the Taliban and the dangers they may still pose.

Feb 15, India rated it liked it. Like several other reviewers here, I was captivated by an interview with Fawzia Koofi and hurried to get hold of her book. Her story is at once deeply disturbing and inspirational, and the book is certainly thought-provoking. Moments of vivid detail a prison guard notices her polished nails; she battles morning sickness wearing a burqa are tremendously powerful. However, as a book it was disappointing; the editorial process did not serve her story well.

The device of using letters to loved one Like several other reviewers here, I was captivated by an interview with Fawzia Koofi and hurried to get hold of her book. The device of using letters to loved ones as chapter openers quickly becomes just that, a device; some important narrative threads are simply left hanging, for no apparent reason.

More a worthy-read than a good-read, unfortunately. Mar 07, Fay rated it liked it. This book was fascinating from a historical and cultural perspective. It presented the historical information clearly.

One Woman's Fight to Lead Afghanistan Into the Future

I finished the book with a deep admiration of the author as well. She is a profoundly forgiving person. Her optimism is backed up by people see has seen open their minds after one of her speeches. She tells a story that is compelling in and of itself, but the writing style doesn't draw you in. I'm glad I read it; reading this book is worlds better than learning about this topic This book was fascinating from a historical and cultural perspective.

I'm glad I read it; reading this book is worlds better than learning about this topic in the news. I hope she continues to write and develop her written "voice". May 08, Kelley rated it it was amazing Shelves: Whenever I read a politician's book, I am skeptical. So I definitely could believe that some of Fawzia Koofi's memoir might turn out to be nothing but self promotion.

And yet, it seems so genuine and humble. I love this story and I love the advice and messages scattered throughout about being a woman in a society that is makes it very hard to be one. A great read that makes me want to learn more about Afghanistan. It makes no apologies for the region or Islam, instead she has great insight as to Whenever I read a politician's book, I am skeptical.

It makes no apologies for the region or Islam, instead she has great insight as to how to being to "fix" things. I will be rooting for Ms Koofi. Sep 26, Kelsey Hanson rated it really liked it Shelves: This is another book that makes me grateful that I was born in a country where women are allowed to receive an education and engage in politics.

The Favored Daughter: One Woman's Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future

Fawzia's story covers her childhood growing up in Afghanistan and living through the rise of the Taliban. I think this book showcases that the Taliban's views do not reflect the views of many of the Afghan people. Her story of survival and her pursuit of politics and gave me a new view of the country of Afghanistan. An excellent read The author gives good insight into the Afghan culture.

It is difficult to understand some of their customs - especially the treatment of women. The book also gives a good history of the power changes in recent years and how that has affected the people of Afganastan. Mar 15, Cindy rated it really liked it.


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The daughter of a well-off and politically active father Strong mother, strong family ties, a husband who was generally supportive of her ambitions and an education allowed Fawzia to overcome horrendous tragedies and rise into the family business of politics. Very hard to read at some points. At points hopeful, but Afghanistan has so far to go. Aug 06, Nadia added it. She's a formidable woman and this biography reveals the derivation of her political life.

She shares some pretty personal stories, uncommon for Afghans, but it makes for a compelling read. The best part of Fawzia Koofi's story is that it's not over. Jul 04, Vavita rated it it was amazing. A hard-working, honest and strong woman! May 15, Lindsey Sheehan rated it liked it. An interesting story, but very repetitive and self-promoting. She was calm and serious and you could tell that she lives her life with clear purpose. She plans to run for president and knows her life will continue to be in danger. John Stewart was clearly in awe of her and his sincerity and respect for her story made me want to get her book.

I wanted to know why she is willing to die for her country. The Favored Daughter is a wonderful mix of memoir and history. Koofi tells her life story through the politics of Afghanistan because she cannot separate the two. When explaining why she had to drop out of medical school, she first has to explain how her country changed when other countries interfered. She has to explain how quickly the Taliban moved in. She needs you to understand that although it was a patriarchal society where women had little to no rights, some women did thrive in their households.

She knows she cannot explain why a husband would beat his wife so that they could both be proud, but she does want to show you the love and community of her people. Families are huge and will always be welcomed and helped however possible. Her story starts out with her intended death. Girls were useless and when her mother bore this daughter, she left her in the sun to die. Koofi did not die and her mother vowed to love and protect her more than any of her children.

Her mother ruled that entire household and it was amazing to see how she managed the other wives in a way that created a family and kept jealousy and anger away. Koofi was born willful and stubborn. Refusing to die was the first of her many steps to change her life. She persuaded her parents and brothers to allow her to attend school. She was rarely dissuaded from goals.

In fact, she was the only girl child her father asked to see. As Koofi got older, she saw the power and danger of politics. Her father served as a government official and people respected him a great deal. However, this also made him a target and he was assassinated. As war explodes in Afghanistan from within and yes, I still cannot explain the specifics , Koofi and her mother go to Kabul where they are safe. Koofi loves it there. She is a strong student and plans on becoming a doctor. And then the Taliban move in.

And they move in fast.

The Favored Daughter: One Womans Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future The Favored Daughter: One Womans Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future
The Favored Daughter: One Womans Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future The Favored Daughter: One Womans Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future
The Favored Daughter: One Womans Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future The Favored Daughter: One Womans Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future
The Favored Daughter: One Womans Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future The Favored Daughter: One Womans Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future
The Favored Daughter: One Womans Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future The Favored Daughter: One Womans Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future
The Favored Daughter: One Womans Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future The Favored Daughter: One Womans Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future
The Favored Daughter: One Womans Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future The Favored Daughter: One Womans Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future

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