Afghan female MPs fighting for their country in exile

In November, 28 former female MPs gathered in Greece. They’d fled the Taliban in dramatic fashion, and were now reunited in a community centre run by Melissa Network, a grassroots organisation for female migrants and refugees that played a role in their evacuation.

The journalist Amie Ferris-Rotman was there; she tells Nosheen Iqbal about the emotional first meeting of the Afghan women’s parliament in exile in Athens. There, the women – some junior politicians, some elder stateswomen, some from prominent wealthy political families, some from poorer backgrounds – traded stories of their escapes and shared hopes for the country they left behind. Shagufa Noorzai, 22, who had been the youngest member of parliament before the Afghan government fell, says she wants the women left behind in Afghanistan to know they have not been forgotten.

Greece, with its own complicated political relationship with immigration, is in some ways an unlikely haven for these women, but for now, it is where they have found safety. While the women wait to see if they will be granted asylum in places such as Canada, the US and Britain, they are drafting policy proposals on everything from combating hunger to educating women – and are trying to make their voices heard.

Noria Hamidi, the MP for Baghlan province talks during the inaugural session of the Afghan women’s parliament in exile. (Photograph: Joel van Houdt for the Guardian)

Photograph: Joel van Houdt/The Guardian

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