Afghanistan is changing – with new president Ashraf Ghani, the world is hoping that at long last, Afghanistan will clean up its act. President Karzai governed amidst allegations of corruption, even from his own ministers; the Taliban still hold much of southern Afghanistan; Afghan forces are suffering from “unsustainable casualty rates.” And President Ghani too, has been subject to accusations of wrongdoing, such as those perpetuated by his presidential rival, Abdullah Abdullah, regarding electoral fraud.
But President Ghani does seem to be different. Notably, he has spoken up time and again about his vision of an Afghanistan where women in society are empowered. As reported by the Associated Press at President Ghani’s inauguration speech, “in the face of these girls I can see future Afghan leaders,” he said as he told his “sisters” in attendance that they have equal rights in society and government.
Moreover, President Ghani stands out for having paid public tribute to his wife, Rula Ghani, in his inauguration speech – a highly unconventional act, as Afghan leaders’ wives typically remain silent in the background. The First Lady herself commented that “by mentioning me the way he did, my husband really showed exactly what I mean by helping Afghan women be more assertive, more conscious of their role, more respected.”
All this looks very promising, but of course, many have expressed doubts as to whether these ideals will be realized. Mary Akrami, head of the Afghan Women’s Skills Development Centre, welcomes the sentiments expressed by the President, but hopes that they will be followed by “concrete action.”
That hope is shared by the team here at Barakat. As an organization built upon the idea that education is a fundamental human right and should be available to all, particularly to girls and women, Barakat is excited to see the impact First Lady Rula Ghani and President Ghani can make on gender equality in Afghanistan!