Just 16 percent of Afghan females above the age of 15 are working, for example. That figure is higher in India and almost double in Bangladesh.
Barakzai ran a secret school for girls under the Taliban and narrowly escaped death in November when a suicide bomber rammed into her car. Three people were killed in the blast with 20 others wounded.
Barakzai is recovering in hospital from the burns to her hands and face.
“Being a woman in Afghanistan is a big problem because the society receives you sometimes as an item, not as a human,” she explained.
“The extremist groups don’t want women. We don’t like them either…. And for them, the biggest enemy is women. So they want to put us in a small box but they should know our voice will break that box and we will come out,” added Barakzai.
She said the future lies in long-term investment in education so women can compete seriously for jobs.