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Ratebzad, Anahita (1931-)

A graduate of the Medical College of the University of Kabul, Anahita Ratebzad, known by her given name, entered politics by working among the educated and professional Afghan women. Connected to the Mohammadzay and other families with a liberal outlook, Anahita set an example of liberation by organizing her female followers around leftist ideas and a promiscuous lifestyle. Cultural activities and literacy courses also formed part of her program. She dissociated herself from her husband after she had a daughter and a son by him. In 1965 she participated in the founding congress of the PDPA; at the same time she also set up the Democratic Organization of the Women of Afghanistan, the first leftist woman organization of its kind in the patriarchal Afghan society. But the organization’s association with the pro-Moscow PDPA made it suspect from the start. Anahita’s association with Karmal as his mistress helped her to win a seat in parliament in 1965. She cemented this alliance by marrying her daughter to Baryalay, Karmal’s brother. In 1976 she entered the central committee. After the communist coup Anahita was appointed minister of social affairs, an insignificant post. Afterward the government sent her as ambassador to Yugoslavia, and soon it dismissed her as it dismissed other Parchami ambassadors. After Karmal was raised to power, Anahita became a member of the politburo, a member of the Revolutionary Council, and minister of education. But Anahita was unable to match her work as a stateswoman with her work as an organization woman. By making the women’s organization a political tool in the service of the Parcham faction and ultimately of the Soviet Union, Anahita dealt the Afghan women’s movement a setback from which it is unlikely to recover in the near future.


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