Zarifa Ghafari was the youngest elected Mayor in Afghanistan until she was forced to flee by Taliban threats to her life.
Appointed by Ashraf Ghani in 2018 to govern the conservative city of Maidan Shahr, Ghafari was initially unable to take up office due to local resistance around her age and gender. She was mobbed by men ordering her to resign on her first day in office and has survived no fewer than three assassination attempts by the Taliban, who went on to kill her father in front of his Kabul home.
Ghafari was forced to flee Afghanistan in the summer of 2021 after armed men appeared at her home searching for her and brutally beat her security guard. She ultimately escaped by hiding in the footwell of a car and ducking down to avoid being spotted by Taliban checkpoints on her journey to Kabul airport.
Despite the threats to her life, Ghafari has since returned to Afghanistan to coordinate humanitarian aid efforts as founder and CEO of the Assistance and Promotion of Afghan Women organization.