Afghan Women Break Glass Ceilings

Women in Afghanistan are being celebrated for unprecedented rises in female leadership and activism across social, political, and economic spheres.

Elected in 2014 on a pro-women’s rights campaign, President Ashraf Ghani has elevated women in almost all senior levels of government. Pointing to key leaders Hasina Safi, Minister for Information and Culture, Munera Yousufzada, Deputy Governor of Kabul Province, and Marjan Jawid Ghoryani, Deputy Mayor of Harat, the Afghan government celebrates its sustained efforts to appoint more women into top political positions.

“I believe that with support of other women and men, we are able to improve life for all women of Herat,” said Ghoryani in an interview with the Feminist Majority Foundation. “Increased participation of women in decision making positions of the municipality, securing work environments for women employees, and implementing practical capacity building projects in the municipality are just some of my top plans for the future.”

Ghoryani’s success comes after a long career of “social, security and family challenges” resulting from her gender identity. Despite an impressive resume, including leadership roles as Cultural Department Director and Head of District Offices, Ghoryani frequently faced tension in a male-dominated environment.

Barriers to entry were also a challenge for the recently appointed Deputy Governor of Kabul, Munera Yousufzada, who commended the changing culture of Afghanistan as a product of the increased appointment of female leaders. Yousufzada, who has extensive experience in international relations, looks forward to continuing the empowerment of women in the field of diplomatic affairs and government relations.

At a Washington DC forum hosted for a delegation of eight high-ranking Afghan women officials in February, Commissioner for the Independent Commission for Overseeing the Implementation of the Constitution of Afghanistan, Ghizaal Haress, stated, “People’s views in Afghanistan towards girls’ education have changed. (Positive thinking) towards the encouragement of young girls to attend school and pursue an education have increased.”

At the same forum, Deputy Minister for Economic Affairs for the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs advised the audience, “Let’s stop thinking of Afghan women as victims and recipients of help…Start to think about them as your partners.”


Media Resources: Tolo News 5/20/18; Feminist Newswire 6/4/15, 2/26/18

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