Massouda Jalal

Massouda Jalal attended Kabul University, where she was a member of the faculty until 1996, when the Taliban government had her removed. Jalal, a psychiatrist and pediatrician, also worked at several Kabul hospitals and, after her removal from the university faculty, as a United Nations employee within the World Food Programme.

Jalal was the only woman to run against Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan’s 2004 presidential race. Having turned down a position as vice-president within Karzai’s administration, she vocally criticized the Karzai government for not significantly advancing the social position of women, and later militated for more progress from the position of Women’s Minister.

Leaving politics, Jalal created the Jalal Foundation in 2007, the first woman-led initiative of its kind in Afghan history. The Jalal Foundation seeks to promote, empower, educate and inform Afghan women by building their capacity as human rights defenders and future leaders.

Jalal was forced to flee Afghanistan after the Taliban returned to power in 2021, and continues her activism from abroad.