In a conversation moderated by FPI Senior Fellow Maureen White*, and FPI Senior Fellow, Amb. Shirin Tahir-Kheli, Fatima Gailani discussed Afghanistan today with a special emphasis on Leadership and Women in all of the complicated aspects that reflect recent history.
Fatima Gailani graduated from Kabul’s Center d’Enseignement Francais en Afghanistan. She earned a master’s degree in Persian literature from the National University in Iran and a degree in Islamic Studies from the Muslim College in London. She started her career seeking peace and prosperity for Afghanistan at the age of 26. She became the spokesperson for the National Islamic Front of Afghanistan resisting the former Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.
Gailani was instrumental in convincing the Grand Imam of al-Azhar to issue a fatwa condemning the Taliban’s ban on girls’ education. In 2001, she returned to Afghanistan as a delegate in the 2002 loya jirga and participated in drafting a new constitution. From 2005 to 2016, she was the president of the Afghan Red Crescent Society. In 2017, she served as the Chair of the Red Cross Conference. She also represented the Red Cross and the Federation of Red Crescent Society in the same year in the humanitarian aid sector for the Gulf region in Dubai.
During the Afghan peace process after 2018, she served as a member of the Afghan government's negotiating team. While recovering from cancer, she was one of only four women to have participated in talks with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar in 2020-2021. Gailani is also the author of the books "Mohammad Musa Shafiq" and "Mosques of London."