Friday, November 04, 2011

Afghanistan: Female role models inspire girls, women in Kandahar and Nimroz

UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan

3 November 2011 – The “If I can do it, you can do it too” campaign run by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) launched role model speak series in the Southern Region where hundreds of schools girls and women heard from Parliamentarian Rana Tarin in Kandahar and the manager of an international non-governmental organization Khalida Ayoubi in Nimroz.

“This is the first time I am participating in such an event in our province. It has motivated me and my fellow classmates to pursue our career goals and play an important part in the society,” said Sarah, one of the schoolgirls who attended the event in Kandahar organized with support from the Afghan Canadian Community Centre (ACCC).

The students heard from Rana Tarin, a Member of Upper House from Kandahar and former provincial head of department of women affairs.

“Every person starts his or her struggle right from childhood, crawling to achieve the target. I started my career from the UNHCR [UN Refugee Agency] office in Nangarhar and now I am a Member of the Parliament. It was real tough going for me to reach this stage, where I faced scores of challenges and obstacles,” Tarin told the audience.

“In Afghanistan, especially the Southern Region, it is hard for a woman to get to this position where I am today. I faced threats on my life and intimidations, but I never gave up. You, the students of ACCC, are the future of our country. You should not be deterred by these challenges because our history tells us that we had great women like, Zarghoona Ana [the mother of great Ahmad Shah Abdali], Nazo Ana [the mother of great Mirwais Khan, the founder of Afghanistan] and Malalai [the great warrior of Maiwand].”

The speech was followed by a Question and Answer session.

“How do you see the future for women in Afghanistan, especially women of Kandahar?” asked Raheela, one of the female students.

“It is entirely up to us that what kind of future we want. We have to fight for our rights, acquire education and have the courage to choose our own faith. We cannot just sit and wait for others to decide our future,” Tarin responded.

In Nimroz, two separate events were organized at girls high schools with support from the Information and Culture Department.

Khalida Ayoubi, the General Manager for an USAID programme in support of civil society, spoke to an audience of around 200 girls.

“The Taliban regime was the toughest for me because women were deprived of their basic rights to education, health and other services. Despite all the restrictions on women, I continued, secretly, to teach girls at my home,” Ayoubi said.

Girls should not be content by only by completing the 12th grade. They should study more to become teachers, doctors, engineers and other professions, Ayoubi added.

Speaking after the event, some girls said they were impressed by what they heard.

“Despite the consent of my parents to study in Herat University, I couldn’t dare to go there. However, after hearing your lecture, now I have the courage to go to Herat and acquire higher education,” said Sameera, a student in 14th grade at the Teacher’s Training Institute of Nimroz.

In general, the events were warmly welcomed by the women in Kandahar and Nimroz provinces, where such events are rare. Braving the insecurity, hundreds of young girls and educated women participated in the events and showed that they are not far behind from their male counterparts, but need some support to have their voices heard in the society.

By UNAMA Kandahar and Nimroz