Interview with an Afghan student about the situation for women in Afghanistan
Within the framework of a project aimed at presenting the situation for women in Afghan and in honor of International Women's Day, I conducted an interview with an Afghan female student whom I have been mentoring for the past few months through a program called SOLA (http://www.sola-afghanistan.org/)
Here is the article that is based on her comments and which can be found on a website called Pax Populi (http://www.paxpopuli.org)
Young Afghan female student (anonymous)
Men and women in Afghanistan do not have equal rights. This means that many women have to stay at home and are not given an opportunity to go out and work. There is however, a small minority of women are able to get an education and to work in the field of education, law, and medicine.
While in the past women had no freedom, some changes have occurred: More women are able to go to school and some are given an opportunity to study abroad. There are also women who have become active in women’s rights groups and have founded cafes such as the Sahar Gul café where women can meet, discuss topics relating to women’s rights and can educate themselves through technology and literature. Now women have the ability to openly protest for their rights and we have now seen women taking to the streets to protest and to demand more equal rights. Hopefully, this trend will continue and will spread as the Afghan society becomes more aware of their impact.
The main challenge for Afghan women is the lack of facilities available to them. Because not all women are able to have access to an education and they are therefore faced with very few options made available to them. Some find themselves being controlled and diminished by family members or some men. In many cases you see the men in their lives forbidding them to study, because they fear that they could become more independent and more vocal about their rights. Some women are faced with being abandoned by their families, insulted, or threatened if they go against their family’s expectations.
To ensure equality both men and women need to join together and discuss their feelings and opinions about equality. Men in society should also encourage women to pursue an education.
Support also needs to come from the government they need to sponsor or create programs where men and women can work together and learn how to treat each other with mutual respect and tolerance.
Women need to work hard and demand their right to an education. They also need role models who can show them what it means to be a successful woman and who can provide guidance or mentor them in a certain field of interest. Programs such as SOLA or AIWR (www.aiwr.org/) are an example of this because they offer support through mentoring/teaching, which enable students to gain confidence in themselves and to believe that they can contribute to the future of Afghanistan and that they are a great asset to the development of the country.