Kubra Cover

Kubra Nurzai, 1932-1986, 1st Woman Minister of Afghanistan

Kubra Nurzai was born in a family of five sisters and three brothers in Kabul City. She attended Malalai High School, which she returnedto lead after graduating from Kabul University. Before her, the high school had been led by French teachers. During her tenure, she improved Malalai High School to become one of the best institutions in the country. She expanded the school’s library and science labs. Later, she also led the Women’s Faculty at Kabul University, and an independent organization named Women’s Society that aimed to improve women’s participation in Afghanistan. The organization formed literacy and childcare programs in addition to publishing literature on women’s rights and laid the foundations for a women’s movement in Afghanistan.

In 1958, Kubra Nurzaiattended Sorbonne University in Paris to continue her education. When she returned, she was appointed a member of the acclaimed Consultative Commission on Studying the Constitution. She was one of only two women on the commission. Kubra Nurzai was appointed Minister of Public Health in 1965 and re-appointed again in the year of 1967. During her time as the minister, she traveled around the country to assess the needs of rural communities and open medical centers.

Kubra Nurzai never married and she never left Afghanistan to live elsewhere. In the last decade of her life, as turmoil and conflict swept up the country, she remained here and found venues to make change. She passed away in 1989 in her family home in Karte Seh.