Mahbouba Seraj, an Afghan civil society activist, was listed in Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People 2021" under the category of "leader," as was Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the deputy prime minister of the caretaker cabinet in Afghanistan.
The Time Magazine website said that Seraj was chosen for her dedication to improving the life of Afghan women. “There are so many things to admire about Mahbouba Seraj. In 2003, she left a comfortable life in the US to return to her native Afghanistan. There, she fought for the rights of women at a time when fewer than 10% of girls were enrolled in elementary school.”
Seraj says she will do more for the women of Afghanistan if the condition and situation allow it. She said that so far she has worked in many ways to help Afghan women.
“I have worked for women and children in almost every area. I have worked in health and education sectors,” she said.
Following the collapse of the former government on August 15, although thousands of people were trying to flee the country, Seraj stayed. She said: “I do not want to leave Afghanistan. If I was supposed to go, I would not have come on August 1st into Afghanistan. I do not want to become a refugee.”
Alongside Seraj, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the deputy prime minister of the caretaker cabinet, has also been named in the Time magazine list. Seraj said she was surprised when she saw Baradar’s name near her name.
Seraj says she is interested in talking to Mullah Baradar: “It was interesting when I saw my name side by side with Baradar’s name. If Baradar wants, we can talk to see what commonalities the world has seen among us,” she said.
Meanwhile, a number of activists in Kabul said Seraj’s achievement is a positive step that will encourage Afghan women and girls to work hard. “If the opportunity is given to the women of Afghanistan, they can become successful. The achievement of Seraj is the achievement of Afghan women,” said Tabasum Niki, a civil society activist.
Seraj is the only Afghan woman to be listed in the Time Magazine list for 2021.