In Pakistan’s frontier region of Bajaur, where women are usually escorted in public by male relatives and women’s rights activists have been gunned down by extremists, one brave woman is putting herself forward to run for government. 40-year-old Bada Zari filed nomination papers for candidacy in the May 11 election, the first woman to ever contest a seat in the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas, or FATA. Zari, who is married but childless, announced her political career on television, covered in a full veil.
Locals say that Zari faces an uphill battle to win votes—not only is she at risk for threats from the conservative Taliban, who fled to Pakistan’s border areas after U.S. forces arrived in Afghanistan, but many of the other candidates have reportedly vowed to ban women from voting. Still, Zari tells The Guardian that she is undaunted, and that she was determined to show that men and women are equal. “I am getting a lot of phone calls of support from women saying you have opened doors for us,” she said to the British paper. “They are giving me a lot of encouragement.”