Mar 08

I have never really paid much attention to International Women’s Day until now. It doesn’t really attract a lot of attention in Europe and to be fair, I never thought it that important. Today I’ve learned differently. Being in a country where gender equality is an uphill struggle these things matter. The women here are particularly proud of the fact that Maryam Durani, a native of Kandahar, has been awarded the 2012 International Woman of Courage Award.

There are also smaller tokens of appreciation. One of the guys in the office this morning came around with Herati sweets which he gave to all the girls. Nothing demeaning about his attitude, he was just being kind. This afternoon we had a small celebration with some female speakers and artists. Perhaps it’s not much, but it’s a good thing to do, and probably does more for women’s rights then introducing nurseries at work. Not that there is anything wrong with that either, but it’s not really what one needs yet in Afghanistan. 

Most importantly, I met the most incredible woman today. Faced with the difficulties during the Taliban era she built up a business, kept at least half if not all the women in her neighbourhood in paid work and is an inspiration to all. And she’s not run out of steam just yet – may she have a long and productive life.

Her name is Kamila Sidiqi. Don’t just read about her story, see what she’s up to and support her work or look at her as an inspiration.

Dr Natalie Schoon, CFA

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