Tomorrow’s Leader: Fatima Amiri

Fatima Amriri is a 17-year-old Hazara student in Afghanistan. A month after losing her eye in a suicide bomb attack on her school, she finished among the top candidates in Afghanistan’s university entrance exams.
14 July 2023
Photo: La Prensa Latina Media

In September 2022, in her Kabul classroom, Fatima Amiri & hundreds of other students had been preparing from university entrance exams. That was when they first heard the gunshots, followed by panicked screams. As she tried to calm her fellow classmates, she saw a man with a gun firing at students. As she took shelter under the desk, that’s when the explosion happened. As a result of the explosion, Amiri lost an eye and an eardrum, with her jaw also being badly damaged. In the attack, 54 students, of whom were mostly girls, were killed.

Two weeks after the attack, despite recovering from her wounds, Amiri showed up for her university entrance exam and was declared one of the top scorers. The entrance exam is an incredibly competitive test that over 100,00 students took in 2022 to earn their spot at university. Scoring 313 out of 360, Amiri was put in the highest catagory of students to have her pick of the top universities and courses in Afghanistan. Speaking to BuzzFeed News, “I want to tell the terrorists that no matter how much oppression you would impose on us, you can’t defeat us! Your attacks inspire us to rise again and again.” After receiving her results, Amiri went back to the scene of the tragedy to pay tribute to her friends and fellow classmates who did not survive the attack.

The attack came in the wake of the ban by the Taliban on girls education after the group came into power in 2021. Amiri, like other young Afghan girls, are still hopeful that the international community will put pressure on the Taliban leaders to respect the right of girls to education and the right of women to work. In December 2022, the Taliban imposed a complete ban on women’s access to university while also ordering nongovernmental organisations to stop women from coming to work. As the ban sparked international outrage, Taliban leaders have said that they will not compromise. 

For young women like Amiri, the opposition is what fuels her drive to pursue her dreams on behalf of other Afghan girls. She is now passionate on leading Afghan women and helping them secure a bright future.

“I am very strong,” Amiri said speaking to Buzzfeed. “I am confident that one day I will get my dreams”. In recognition of her courage and resilience, the BBC placed Amiri on a list of 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world for 2022.