Known for her efforts to advance women’s rights in Afghanistan, Zarifa experienced an untenable career in politics. Her appointment as Mayor in July 2018 – in a conservative region with widespread Taliban support– was delayed for nine months due to protests and threats by local politicians about her age and gender. After assuming her duties as major, she faced death threats from the Taliban and ISIL and survived three assassination attempts. She condemns the Taliban for the death of her father, whom gunmen killed in November 2020.
As mayor, Zarifa became a role model to women in Afghanistan. She introduced an anti-litter campaign and made a special appeal to the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, to safeguard women’s rights following the uncertainties posed by the Taliban USA negotiations. In 2020, Zarifa was chosen as an International Woman of Courage by the US Secretary of State.
Following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan’s Government in mid-August 2021, Zarifa fled with her husband, mother, and five sisters. The German Government granted her asylum, and she now resides in Germany.