At the age of twenty-four Zarifa Ghafari became mayor of Maidan Shahr, a province of Kabul, Afghanistan; before that she had completed a MSc in Economics and launched and operated a women-focused radio station. During her tenure, violent threats were made to dissuade her from taking up her role, including six attempts on her life, and her father murdered in retribution. After overseeing 70,000 families during the fall of Kabul, she escaped from the Taliban in August 2021 to seek refuge in Germany.
Ghafari was included by the BBC as one of the 100 most inspiring and influential women in the world in 2019, and has received the International Woman of Courage Award from the US State Department in 2020, the Oxi Day Foundation Award for Courage in 2021 and many other awards since then. She has set up a foundation for women in Afghanistan and her life is the subject of a documentary film: IN HER HANDS.