Masooma Muradi, the former Governor of Daikundi, Afghanistan, has been removed from office after receiving continued opposition due to her gender. Muradi was the only female Governor in Afghanistan, and her position has now been filled by a man.
Appointed by President Ghani as Governor in 2015, Muradi is not the first woman in Afghanistan to lose her job due to objections to having a woman in a leadership position. Sima Joinda, the former Governor of the province of Ghor, Afghanistan was also removed from her position less than one year after she was appointed after becoming the target of numerous protests. She is now the Deputy Governor of Kabul.
Muradi and Joinda are among very few women who have occupied government positions within Afghanistan. Muradi reported that throughout her time as Governor, she received criticism from numerous religious conservatives. She stated, “People claim to be open-minded, but many cannot bear having a woman in this position.” In response to opposition, Muradi stated, “I won’t allow men to hush me up – society is not used to that from a woman.”
Dr. Habiba Surabi became the first female Governor within Afghanistan in 2005. As Governor of Bamyan province for 8 years, Surabi focused on promoting women’s rights. In addition, Surabi was recognized for her contributions relating to environmentalism and tourism. She was chosen to receive the Ramon Magaysay Award for her successful actions as governor.
There have been many attempts to increase the representation of women in leadership roles, however this has been an issue of great controversy. With men holding the majority of government positions, the impact of gender discrimination on the removal of female Governors is publicly minimized. Regarding the removal of Muradi from office, a government representative stated, “We are thankful for all her efforts. This is not any kind of prejudice against women.”
Despite this setback, a 2016 survey of the Afghan people showed that 74 percent of Afghans believe women should work outside the home, a record high. In addition, a large majority of Afghans (80.7 percent) agree that women should have equal opportunities to men. When women were asked to name the greatest challenge they face, 36.1 percent voiced concern over illiteracy and access to education.
Media Sources: The Indian Express 8/1/16, 9/30/17, The Independent 9/28/17, Afghan Bios, Feminist Newswire 1/10/17