Afghan Biographies

Sorabi, Habiba, Mrs. Dr. Sarabi

Name Sorabi, Habiba, Mrs. Dr. Sarabi
Ethnic backgr. Hazara
Date of birth 1956
Function/Grade Advisor to the CEO Dr. Abdullah Abdullah
History and Biodata

2. Previous Functions:
Minister of Woman Affairs
Provincial Governor Bamian (2005-20131012)
Advisor to the CEO Dr. Abdullah Abdullah (2014)

3. Biodata:
sorabi_habiba_drDr. Habiba Sarabi Habiba Surabi was born1956 and was the only girl in her family with four brothers. Her father clearly preferred them to her. She would always get beaten up for no reason; whenever her father was cross with her brothers he would take it out on her. Her mother's human rights were violated. She was a victim of the worst forms of domestic violence. Watching her suffer made Surabi resilient and taught her to fight for her rights. She is a hematologist, politician, and reformer of the post-Taliban reconstruction of Afghanistan.

In 1996, when the Taliban entered Kabul, Sorabi fled to Pakistan, determined to give her daughter, Naheed, an education, which the Taliban prohibited. Today, Naheed Sarabi has a master’s degree in development management and works as an adviser in the Ministry of Finance in Kabul. (20120720)

In 2005, she was appointed as governor of Bamyan Province by President Hamid Karzai, becoming the first woman to ever be a governor of any province in the country. She previously served in Karzai's government as Minister of Women's Affairs as well as Minister of Culture and Education. Sarabi has been instrumental in promoting women's rights and representation and environment issues. She belongs to the ethnic Hazara people of Afghanistan. Her last name is sometimes spelled Sarobi.

Sarabi was born in Mazari Sharif and spent her youth traveling around the country with her father. She later moved to Kabul to attend high school and study medicine at university. After graduating, she was awarded a fellowship by the World Health Organization and moved to India to complete her studies in hematology. During the Taliban rule in Afghanistan, Dr. Habiba and her children fled to Peshawar, Pakistan, but returned frequently in secret.

Her husband stayed behind in Kabul to care for his family. She also worked underground as a teacher for girls, both secretly in Afghanistan and in refugee camps in Pakistan for Afghan refugees. In 1998, she joined the Afghan Institute of Learning and eventually became the General Manager of the entire organization. She was also the Vice President of Humanitarian Assistance for the Women and Children of Afghanistan.

As governor, she has announced one of her focuses will be on tourism as a source of income. The province has historically been a source of Buddhist culture and was the location of the Buddhas of Bamiyan, the two ancient statues destroyed by the Taliban prior to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. However, Bamiyan continues to remain one of the poorest and most under-developed provinces of Afghanistan, with a litany of problems including high rates of illiteracy and poverty.

In 2008 Time Magazine included her in its list of "Heroes of the Environment", partly for her work in establishing the Band-e Amir National Park in Bamiyan. In 2008, Mrs. Azra Uzra Jafari followed Mrs. Sarobi as a pioneering Afghan woman when she became Afghanistan's first female mayor. Sorabi, refusing to step down in the wake of a recent protest by Provincial Council members, said on 20100524 that a demonstration was launched at the behest of her opponents.

Meshrano Jirga Member Zabuli accused Bamyan governor Habiba Surabi of discrimination toward other tribes, saying only Hazara tribesmen had shops and business in the provinces. "The governor has not only deprived other tribes of their rights, but she had told them to leave the province," he alleged. "We have summoned the governor in this regard and she has promised to come, but did not appear," he said. But the governor rejected Zabuli’s claims, saying she did allow people of other tribes to get shops and land without having ownership documents. "I have accepted all documents which meet our standards and I did not accept any document of any tribe, which did not meet our standards," she said. Twenty land ownership claims had been approved without any discrimination, she said. Zabuli also said a snow-clearing company official had told him that the governor had asked him for $20,000 in bribe for a snow-clearing project. The governor in this regard said: "If the company can prove the claim, I am ready to go to the office of prosecutor and accept whatever decision is taken." (20120212)

Surabi was chosen for the Ramon Magsaysay Award in recognition of her services and good governance, which is considered Asia's Nobel Prize. She is set to receive the award on Aug 31, 2013.

Tayeb Jawad and Dr. Habiba Sarabi have been appointed as advisors to the CEO Dr. Abdullah Abdullah.(20150122)

Habiba Sarabi, one of the deputy chairpersons of the Afghan High Peace Council (HPC), was awarded the N-PEACE Award under Untold Story Category on Sunday, Feb 12, 2017 in Thailand.

She is married and has children.

Last Modified 2017-10-11
Established 2009-10-09