An Inspiring Former First Lady

1 year ago / by Swarnendu Biswas
Rula Ghani
Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Rula F. Saadah Ghani, commonly known as Rula Ghani, is the former first lady of Afghanistan. She is the wife of the former President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai served as the fifth President of Afghanistan from September 2014 to August 2021.

As a first lady, Rula Ghani was seen as a passionate advocate for women’s rights. She was expected to bring perceptible change in women’s rights in Afghanistan.

Rula Ghani was born as Rula Saade or Rolla Saadé, in 1948. The age of Rula Ghani is 74 years.

She was born and raised in a Lebanese Maronite Christian family in Lebanon. While exploring about Rula Ghani one can come to know that she graduated from Paris Institute of Political Studies, which is commonly referred to as Sciences PO, in 1969. She joined the revered institute in 1966 as one among the 700 foreign students at the institution, which comprised 20 percent of the total student body of the institute at that time.

She followed her graduation from Sciences Po with a master’s degree in political science from the American University of Beirut, in 1974. She was also involved in student protests in Beirut, that erupted in 1968, which contributed to shaping her social conscience. While studying at American University of Beirut, she met her future husband who in 2014 became the President of Afghanistan.

They married in 1975, and have two children – one daughter and a son. Rula Ghani went on to earn another master’s degree, this time in journalism, from Columbia University in New York, in 1983.

In the late 1970s the young couple moved to the US where Ashraf Ghani did his PhD and commenced his career at the World Bank. Rula Ghani returned to Afghanistan in 2003.

The former first lady of Afghanistan Rula Ghani has citizenship in Afghanistan, Lebanon and the US and can speak Arabic, English, French, Pashto and Dari. A biography of Rula Ghani should mention that during the election campaign of Ashraf Ghani the truly cosmopolitan lady was the only Presidential candidate’s wife in Afghanistan Presidential elections to appear in public.

Before her, the President’s wife in Afghanistan never had much of a public life, but Rula Ghani became a unique first lady in Afghanistan who was also a prominent public figure with a staff to support her and meeting rooms where she received a plethora of people.

Just days after moving into her new office in the Presidential palace, she told BBC that she hoped to encourage greater respect for women. She did set up an office in the Presidential palace to advise on improving conditions for Afghanistan’s internally displaced people, which in 2014 were not less than 750,000.

However, on 15th August 2021, after the capture of Kabul by Taliban, Ashraf Ghani and Rula Ghani and their son and daughter fled Afghanistan along with their two close aides. A few hours later after their fleeing, the Presidential palace was also captured by Taliban.

On 18th August 2021, the United Arab Emirates government informed that the Ghani family was in their country and the Gulf nation had taken them on humanitarian grounds.

There is no authentic information in public domain about the net worth of Rula Ghani.


When did Rula Ghani start her career in politics?

She does not have a formal career in politics but as President’s wife she tried to improve the status of women in Afghanistan.

Who is Rula Ghani married to?

She is married to Ashraf Ghani, who served as the President of Afghanistan duringSeptember 2014 to August 2021. Besides being a top-notch politician, he is also an economist.

What is Rula Ghani’s educational qualification?

She is a post-graduate in political science and journalism.