Dr. Massouda Jalal (born January 5, 1962) was the only woman candidate in the Afghan presidential election of 2004. She is from Kabul and has a background as a paediatrician, teacher at Kabul University, and a UN World Food Programme worker.
Born in Gul Bahar in Kapisa Province, one of seven children, Jalal moved to Kabul to attend high school. She later 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. Her husband is a law instructor at Kabul University; they have three children.
Although she was uninvolved in politics during the Taliban regine, Jalal emerged after the fall of the Taliban in 2001 as a leading voice for the role of women in Afghan society. A representative of her Kabul neighborhood to the 2002 loya jirga, her name was placed into consideration to lead Afghanistan as interim president, but she placed a distant second to Hamid Karzai, with support from only 171 of the 1575 delegates. Having turned down a position as vice-president within Karzai’s administration, she has since vocally criticized the Karzai government for not significant advancing the social position of women.
As an outsider in Afghanistan’s power structure, Jalal stressed her independence from the warlords and past oppressive regimes. Although many of the candidates for the Afghan presidency and called for a boycott of the election following reports of voting irregularities at some polling places, Jalal was one of the few candidates who did not join the protest. An exit poll taken during the October 2004 election showed Jalal taking about seven percent of the vote among Afghan women.
Jalal received 1.1 percent of the vote in the 2004 election, placing 6th among 17 male candidates. She is currently a member of Karzai Administration for 2004 to 2009, serving at the Women’s Affairs minister in the cabinet.
“Still Fighting,” a feature documentary about her courageous campaign for President, is being produced by New View Films in Washington, DC. See a clip at http://www.newviewfilms.tv
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