Dr. Hajar Abulfazl
Dr. Hajar Abulfazl
Dr. Hajar Abulfazl is an advocate for women’s empowerment through health and sport. She is a medical doctor, former captain of the Afghanistan Women’s National Football Team, a youth delegate to the United Nations, athlete advisor for Equality League, and founder of Tawana youth development group in Kabul.
Hajar has vast experience from grassroots to elite levels of sports participation and unique knowledge about the benefits sport has to improving health, academic, economic, and social conditions. She knows healthier women and girls contribute to a stronger society and country.
In March 2018 on International Women's Day, Hajar delivered her Story of Courage to the Women for Women International audience gathered at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC. She described how the support of her family, specifically receiving her father's permission to play sports, set the course of her life as an advocate for female empowerment through sports and health. Watch here.
At age 24, in October 2017, the New York Times described circumstances in Afghanistan which Hajar persevered over to play sport in "Women Play Today, Lead Tomorrow".
In July 2017, Hajar received the Courageous Use of Sport Award for individual bravery in the face of adversity. The London-based Beyond Sport organization honored her for using sport as the platform to tackle complex social issues in an area of conflict; for using football to empower girls in her home country of Afghanistan. The award was presented to Hajar in New York City by World Wrestling Entertainment athletes Nia Jax and Sami Zayn. Her nomination and win received major coverage by Voice of America, BBC Persian, Tolo, Tolonews, Ariana, Tamadon, Khorshid, Rah-Farda, Naghah, and1TV.
This 2-minute video by Players' Tribune shows Hajar's commitment as a role model to the next generation of Afghan women.
Hajar earned her medical degree in 2017 from Khatam-Al-Nabieen University and she co-founded the non-governmental organization named Tawana Youth Development Organization in 2015 . Her organization hopes to implement a Football School of Life Program to expand her work lecturing about football and health to girls’ schools, organizing sports training, facilitating community sports festivals, and making home visits with parents to develop acceptance for girls’ sports participation. The organization currently conducts leadership training for both female and male youth up to age 25. Hajar is currently seeking funding to expand the Tawana programs.
In 2015, Hajar made her first of five visits to the USA when she was invited as a member of Team Shirzanan — a group of Muslim athletes from seven nations (including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, and Jordan) who met in the USA for a panel discussion and advocacy bicycle ride promoting female sports participation as a human right.
Hajar has participated in leadership and capacity building workshops and conferences, including the United Nations Youth Assembly at their headquarters in New York in February 2016 where she was among the nine finalists from a field of 600 delegates in the social change competition.
In May 2016, she led a delegation of Afghan female athletes in an International Visitor Leadership Program and traveled throughout the United States visiting organizations and individuals who support sports development for Afghan women. Hajar has also attended a gender discrimination conference in Berlin, Germany, a leadership conference in Hiroshima, Japan, and a football development initiative in London, UK, at the invitation of Prime Minister David Cameron. She has spoken publicly to an array of audiences ranging from school children to international athletes to Afghan President Ghani.
As an athlete, she competed in many regional and international matches, currently coaches the Under-17 girls’ football team, and was the former head of both the women’s and finance committees for the Afghanistan Football Federation.
Hajar gives back to her country by applying what she has learned to build familiarity and acceptance of women and girls in sport. Her future goals include earning a Master’s degree in Public Health, building a female-only sports complex and medical center in Kabul, and continuing to use sport as a tool to develop democratic freedoms in Afghanistan.
Sample of media pieces:
Hijab in Sports: How Muslim Women Athletes are Fighting for Acceptance by Rolling Stone Magazine
Hajar Abulfazl by Equal Playing Field
Afghanistan Female Soccer Players Face Unique Challenges by Bustle
My Journey My Dream by Girl Power