Marjan, a symbol of courage against Taliban in Uruzgan

KABUL (PAN): Marjan, 50, the only female member of the provincial council in central Uruzgan province, says it was her long resistance against the Taliban that translated into her election as member of the council.
Despite numerous challenges and attempts on her life by the Taliban, Marjan was able to be elected as the council member after she attracted the attention of tribal elders who proposed her to run for a provincial council seat.
“It has been my courage and resistance against the Taliban that led tribal elders to purpose me to run in the elections,” she told Pajhwok Afghan News in an interview after addressing a gathering of 200 women in Tirinkot, the provincial capital.
Marjan, who belongs to the Kuchi tribe, is in her 50s, but still has strong physiques. She seems to be clever, though illiterate. A resident of Tirinkot, Marjan said she did not expect she would be able to travel outside Uruzgan and work for women’s rights and empowerment due to Taliban's threats.
 “My brother and a nephew who worked for the government were killed by the Taliban, who continued to threaten my family and I had to spent three months in a cave inside my residence,” she recalled.
She added she had to spend her days and nights like a prisoner at her house and had to guard her home because someone could anytime throw hand grenades inside. Finally, she said she had been able to flee while clad in men’s dress through a hole dug by her brother in one her house's walls.
In cooperation with her brother and area people, she reached Ajristan district in southern Ghazni province, where she came under attack from the Taliban, but survived. She suffered slight injuries in the ambush. The insurgents fled as security forces arrived at the scene, Marjan said.
Frequent attempts on her life by the rebels attracted tribal elders to insist she should run for a provincial council seat, an offer she accepted.
"Tribal elders told me that women and girls in our province are facing many problems and they are being killed on a daily basis, therefore I should be a member of the provincial council as their representative,” she said.
Marjan is the only woman who highlights problems facing women in Uruzgan, where most of girls are deprived of education and have no access to health facilities.
During the course of her duty, she had executed different uplift projects for women's development with assistance from provincial officials.
Although Marjan is not educated, she realises the importance of education among girls and has been actively involved in sharing women's demands with government officials.