From rural Afghanistan to the halls of power and the global diplomatic stage

When Shinkai Karokhail was a little girl in rural Afghanistan, simply going to school was a rare privilege. She went on to become a medical doctor and a powerful politician, the only member of the Afghanistan legislature to oppose the draft Shia Family Law, which included many provisions opposed to women's rights. Today, Mrs. Karokhail continues her advocacy for the rights of women and children as Afghanistan's Ambassador to Canada.
Shinkai Karokhail, Afghanistan's Ambassador to Canada (By Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung - commons.wikimedia)
Listen15:52

If one had to describe the life of Afghanistan's Ambassador to Canada in just three words, they would be "against all odds."

Shinkai Karokhail was born and raised in rural Afghanistan, where education for young girls is not a priority. Nevertheless, she finished high school.

During the Soviet invasion and the years of Taliban rule, her family moved to Pakistan, also a country that oppresses women. But she attended university, became a medical doctor, and a champion for the education of girls and women.

Forced marriage does not exist in our religion, but I don't know why Afghan men are still forcing the very young and teenagers to go for marriage. Some of these men don't know the real interpretation of Islam, but secondly they are manipulating Islam just to control over half the population.- Shinkai Karokhail

When she returned to her homeland, Shinkai Karokhail successfully ran for office in 2005 and served two terms as a member of parliament. She was the only MP who publicly opposed controversial legislation promoted by then-President Hamid Karzai: the Shia Family Law. It would legalize marital rape, proposed nine as the legal age of marriage and sought to withdraw many other rights of women. 

Shinkai Karokhail attends the conference, "Women For Afghan Women 12th Anniversary Protecting Women's Rights Beyond 2014", on May 29, 2014, in New York City. (Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Afghan Women)
Two years ago Ashraf Ghani, the newly-elected President of Afghanistan, asked her to serve as the country's ambassador to Canada. She agreed to assume that role last year, after completing her second term as an MP.

Click the button above to hear Michael's interview with Shinkai Karokhail.

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