Shaharzad Akbar

Shaharzad Akbar

Foundation for Free and Fair Elections in Afghanistan

A native of Afghanistan, Shaharzad Akbar has defied both the jaws of oppression and threat of assassination in her quest to learn and to advocate for free and fair elections. A native of Afghanistan, Shaharzad Akbar has defied both the jaws of oppression and threat of assassination in her quest to learn and to advocate for free and fair elections. She spent her youth moving from city to city in northern Afghanistan as her family sought safe havens. At 11, she moved to Pakistan, returning to Afghanistan several years later. She traveled throughout the country, reporting for the book, Women of Courage, and has been an active blogger since 2005.

Her professional involvement with the media includes work as a local reporter for BBC for Afghanistan, producer and host of a youth talk show, and writer and editor for several Afghan magazines and newspapers. In 2009, Akbar worked as a senior analyst and reporter for the principal domestic elections observers group in Afghanistan and was the focal point for all international observing bodies.

She enrolled in Kabul University and later transferred to Smith College. The first Afghan woman to study at graduate level at Oxford University, she is completing a master’s degree in development studies.