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Young Afghan Rights Activist Selected As 'Person Of The Year'

Anarkali Honaryar has been named Radio Free Afghanistan's Person of the Year.
RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan (RFA) has announced that it has selected 25-year-old human rights activist Anarkali Honaryar as its Person of the Year.

Honaryar works for the country's Independent Human Rights Commission and is a member of Afghanistan's small Sikh community.

She told RFA that she is proud of the honor, which she dedicates "to all those young people who fight for human rights, equality, and civil society."

More than 30 rights groups, NGOs, and journalists' unions helped select this year's winner.

Honaryar has been working to promote democracy, equal rights, and civil society issues in Afghanistan for the last seven years.

She was a member of the Afghan Constitution Committee, which drafted the country's current constitution, and of the Loya Jirga that selected Afghanistan's interim government after the Taliban was ousted.

"As a woman, I have faced so many challenges during this campaign,” she said. But she said she has never thought of giving up, despite Afghanistan's male-dominated culture.

When she was a child, Honaryar admits to once having wished she were a boy, as she dreamed of becoming a pilot. But because she was a girl living in Afghanistan's conservative society, the “dream never came true."

Instead, Honaryar is now a medical doctor.

"Now I believe that a woman is capable of doing anything that a man can do," she says, "only if they are given the opportunities that a man has.”

RFA's inaugural Person of the Year prize went last year to the governor of Nangarhar Province, Gulagha Sherzai.

(by Omid Marzban)