Recently I was given the responsibility of doing monitoring and evaluation in a capacity building project with one of the Afghan government ministries.
In the course of collecting data I had to meet with officials at this ministry, where I found very few women working in any of the key management positions.
Discovering this, I decided to interview some male ministry officials to find out why there were practically no women managers. Some of their answers satisfied me. For example this one:
— There is a shortage of qualified women with the right experience and education for the position.
But here are some of the other answers I got:
— Women can’t manage a big unit.
— Presence of women in office is a source of distraction.
— Women are simply not good in leadership.
— Once I provide the opportunity for women to manage the team, our work will be left far behind.
And finally this is the worst one:
— I am strictly against women’s education and employment. This is the reason last year I suggested a new regulation to restrict scholarship and overseas studies for women. They return to corrupt our traditions and beliefs because they become westernized.
This man added that: Although my first request was rejected, I will keep trying in order to avoid diminishing my cultural value and I am proud of my efforts.
For me, such people are a disaster. They are the reason we are left far behind.
Women are not a source of distraction. It is these men’s eyes that have a problem in screening what distracts them. It is their own frantic thoughts that are prohibiting women from achieving our rights.
What is the solution?
In my experience I can confidently say that women can be top-quality professional leaders, managers, business owners, politicians, and perfectly good leaders of the household for a family.
Let’s think critically and realize that limiting women from education and employment is not the solution; in fact it is worsening Afghanistan’s economic situation.
Being an Islamic country doesn’t mean restricting women from their rights and humiliating them in the workplace by refusing them good jobs.
Trust women to enrich the workplace. Be courageous. Help women strengthen their self-esteem by standing alongside them, instead of against them.
Photo By Coco McCabe.