Habiba Sarabi is Afghanistan’s only female governor. She has headed Bamiyan province since 2005, engaged in rebuilding from scratch her part of one of the world’s most murderous countries.
A qualified doctor, she left Afghanistan under the Taliban, but returned in secret to teach girls.
Today, still the target of death threats, she continues her struggle to put her country back on its feet.
euronews: “Habiba Sarabi, you are a prominent figure in Afghanistan. How does it feel to be a major female politician in a male-dominated society?”
Habiba Sarabi: “It’s very difficult to work as a politician and especially I’m the first and only female governor. But anyway, it is the major issue that I have to watch every step to not making something wrong, otherwise, all fingers will show to me.”
euronews: “One of your priorities is girls’ education. During the Taliban rule, it was banned above the age of eight, and girls could not even write their names, very few could. What is the situation like now in your province and in the rest of Afghanistan?”
Habiba Sarabi: “Nowadays girls education is getting improved. We have 38 percent from total students, 38 percent of them in the entire country are girls, but in my province we have 44 percent, which is a little bit above the country level of education. “
euronews: “Women’s conditions are not only about education. What about forced weddings, the burqa, violence against women, stoning to death. Is this getting any better?”
Habiba Sarabi: “ Everything is getting better, much better since 2001. But violence against women is still a problem. And it’s due to the lack of education, the poverty is another cause or another reason for that, and the lack of awareness among women, these are the main problems for the violence against women.”
euronews: “Your province, Bamyan, is one of the poorest in Afghanistan. These is little electricity, no running water, very few roads, a high mortality rate too. What are you doing to try and improve the situation?”
Habiba Sarabi: Bamyan was isolated, so I put the first priority for roads. And so I have been lobbying a lot for roads, so I got something for that, because a road is the only thing that we can get (that can give us access) easily to education, to health services, to economic development, to everything. Another issue is our national park. Bamyan has the first national park, which is our lakes. So, we got some money for that, this park. “
euronews: “Ten years after the beginning of the war, is Afghanistan a safer place?”
Habiba Sarabi: “To be honest, no. It was much more better – I cannot tell 10 years ago – but at least six years and seven years ago, it was much better than today. But I am sure with the commitment of the international community, we can get something. And the peace process is going on.”
euronews: “So do you think that Afghanistan can let foreign troops leave in three years from now as it is planned? Do you think this is feasible?”
Habiba Sarabi: “It will be done, and this policy and this programme can go exactly as it is planned with the international community. But beside that, we need some more support especially for training on police and army, ANA and ANP (Afghanistan National Army and Afghanistan National Police), and also to well-equip them so that they can defend themselves. But I am sure that the international community is not going (to leave) totally. So, a number of them will remain with the government of Afghanistan, with the people of Afghanistan to support them for better conditions until Afghanistan can be a sustainable country.”
euronews: “Doctor Sarabi, is negotiating with the Taliban the right thing to do?”
Habiba Sarabi: “The Taliban doesn’t have a fixed address that there we can discuss with them, and with whom. For example Mullah Omar is not present, he’s just making some noise or making announcements through the media. So because the address of Taliban is not clear, it’s better to look for the cause of problem which is Pakistan. “
euronews: “So, you are not in favour of negotiating with them?”
Habiba Sarabi: “ I think so, yeah. “
euronews: “Governor Sarabi, you have been appointed by Oresident Karzaï who is widely accused of being corrupt and only wishing for a third term. Do you have the feeling that you have to distance yourself from him ? “
Habiba Sarabi:” No, never. Because I am a part of the government of Afghanistan. We have to bring change. If everyone distances themselves, who will work ? Maybe there is corruption on the government of Afghanistan, but we have to correct it, we have to not to allow to follow the mistake, but President Karzaï himself announced that he will not run for a third term, and he will give the chance (to someone else), and legally he is not allowed to run for the third term. “
euronews:“But will the people in the system be willing to change the system?”
Habiba Sarabi: “All of them, they do not the same position and they don’t have the same ideas. There are people that want to bring some change, they want to make a good system, to help the people of Afghanistan.”
euronews:” Habiba Sarabi, thank you.”