When Zainab was nine years old, her mother was attacked and killed by the Kuchis, a group who discriminated against Hazaras due to historic land disputes going back to the 1800s. Fearing for their safety, Zainab and her family moved to Iran, where they struggled to find a home.
Decades later, Zainab returned to Afghanistan and worked with Hazara women as a midwife, teaching them their rights. With a strengthened sense of empowerment and confidence, Zainab decided to run to be a representative in the country’s parliament. But as a Hazara woman, she faced discrimination and danger at every turn. One year after she decided to run for office, Zainab fled, knowing that her life was in danger because of her political aspirations.
Resettling in Canada, Zainab says the first five years were the hardest, though she was “just happy to be in a safe place.” She recalls: “I had no family here, was depressed and didn’t know English.” Though her ethnicity has caused pain in her lifetime, Zainab wants to pass on her culture to her children, so they can be the “voice of all Hazaras.”