Shukria Asil, Afghanistan
2010 International Women of Courage Award WinnerMs. Asil serves as one of four female members of the Baghlan Provincial Council. Her work advocates for increased accountability and responsiveness of the government to women’s needs. Her portfolio includes issues that have no other advocate, such as the rights of the mentally disabled, and her approach draws upon innovative tools and ideas, such as starting a networking group for professional women, or pushing to launch a driving school for women. She has promoted women in media, created links between remote communities and their provincial government, and worked to advance educational opportunities for young girls.
Ms. Asil has chosen a public and dangerous role in her dedication to fighting injustice. In one particular case last year, Ms. Asil challenged the Ministry of Education after it published negative information in the media about three female teachers in Baghlan Province, resulting in the firing of those individuals. Ms. Asil successfully reversed their dismissal. In another instance, Ms. Asil intervened in a case in which a girl had been gang-raped and rejected by her family, managing to eventually reconcile and reunite the family, despite being directly discouraged by the provincial governor from doing so.
Ms. Asil has forged ahead with her exceptional work despite threats of kidnapping and death. Even in the face of urging from the police and security forces to cease her work for her own safety, she continues to risk her life to work for what she believes in.