Everyone can dream. If I were to dream of being First Lady in Afghanistan, I would think about my priorities and how Afghanistan is a tough country for women because so many men cannot accept a female whose position is superior to theirs. They cannot accept a female supporting a worthy cause or even a female working for another female. This is how most Afghan men think.
My first priority as First Lady would be to realign our education system based on women’s needs. We need women-friendly schools, technical institutes, and dormitories. We need women’s studies departments and women-only universities so more families can send their daughters, wives, and sisters for higher education. We have no Home Economics University; this is also much needed.
I would create hiring quotas to get more women hired in university faculties, both in the sciences and the arts. I would offer scholarships for women and fully equipped hostels for mothers with one or more children.
My focus would be women’s empowerment through employment. That does not mean taking mothers away from their families. There are many Internet-related jobs, home visitation positions, and paying housework jobs that women can do without going to offices. In Afghanistan, we have widows and poor women working as skilled tailors and needlework masters, and we have young newly educated women who can create income-producing jobs for themselves. But the government can also subsidize work for women. All of these opportunities can be categorized in a women’s employment database.
The bitter truth is that most women in Afghanistan are victims of great injustices. We need a countrywide, multimedia awareness-raising campaign to identify these injustices. I would focus on building a “women’s rights package,” but not just a paper project that would be forgotten as soon as a new government comes on board.
Self-awareness and economic empowerment are the major sources of peace in families. Through these two things, we can significantly reduce violence against women. We cannot be content to have just a fraction of a percent of women in the political or media limelight. There are many more women who long to smile once, to get enough to eat just once, to walk freely in the open air, and to spend a single moment of their lives healthy and happy.
I hope to soon see better days for women in Afghanistan.