Pakistan: 25-Year-Old Women’s Rights Activist Shot Dead
Thursday, July 12, 2012 2:20 PM

After continuing the fight for women’s rights despite receiving numerous threats from those who opposed her cause, 25-year-old activist Fareeda “Kokikhel” Afridi was murdered in the Khyber tribal area of Pakistan, near Peshawar. Fareeda was shot once in the head and twice in the neck, and died of her wounds soon after.
In 2004, a teenage Fareeda and her sister Noorzia co-founded the Society for the Appraisal of Women Empowerment in Rural Areas (SAWERA), a non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to promoting children’s and women’s rights and education in the tribal regions of Pakistan.
From the beginning, the sisters were bombarded with criticism of their career choices, even from family members. Despite this, the co-founders of SAWERA strived to fight the government, the Taliban, and the patriarchal values that Fareeda believed disadvantaged women in Pakistani society.
While she never identified the source of the threats she had been receiving, the activist recently discussed the threats and predicted her own murder in an interview with the Pakistani Daily Times, stating “I could even be killed in Peshawar.” While it is unclear who is responsible for the murder, many friends and coworkers of the Afridis suspect that Taliban militants are to blame. Most have little doubt that the activist’s fight for women’s empowerment motivated the killing.