From Afghanistan to Cincinnati: Zamira Saidi’s fearless pursuit of justice

Nestled away in the mountains, the village Khost in the Baghlan Province of Afghanistan is where Zamira Saidi (LLM ’19, JD ’22) began her education journey.

Her family fled to Khost during the Taliban uprising in the 1990s, along with other families trying to escape Taliban rule. At the time, there was no school for girls in the village. Believing in education for their daughters, her parents, along with other transplants, started the first school for girls in the village.

“I was among those girls going to that very, very first class in my village,” Zamira said. “Every year the school got bigger and bigger, it expanded and more girls were going to school. Now we have a female school in that village.”

From a young age, Zamira was already dreaming of a path that would involve a higher education and a career, but she wasn’t sure how she would achieve these goals. Living in a conflict zone, her rights were limited, messages in society told her it wasn’t possible, and opportunities available were different for boys and girls. Her thoughts often turned towards anger and hopelessness.

“In my little childhood pictures, I was always mad,” she said. “Gender discrimination was casually part of our daily life. Everything could be taken from you as a woman, your chance at a career, your ability to leave a bad relationship, even keeping your own kids. I genuinely thought this is how it was all over the world.”

Moving around for her father’s work changed Zamira’s perspective. She began to see alternative possibilities outside of the traditional roles women had in villages-and she began to read and educate herself on women’s rights.

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