May 22, 2015
One last message as I sit in the Dubai airport waiting for the plane home.Â And I confess, going from Kabulâ€™s airport to Dubaiâ€™s airport is a fast immersion form of culture shock. Kabulâ€™s airport is concrete, cold, grey, and dirty. And Dubaiâ€™s airport is glitter and gloss.
May 21, 2015
I've met many female leaders working to make a difference in Afghanistan.
May 20, 2015
What an itinerary!Â We met with the shelterâ€™s overall supervisor who has been trained as a nurse, doctors at a major hospital, and people from a women's business development program. We also met with a former staffer from my own firm, JBS International, who is now heading up USAID's Women and Leadership program. We finished up with dinner in the staff cafeteria at the U.S. Embassy.
May 19, 2015
Women for Afghan WomenÂ (WAW) held a two-hour roundtable discussion with 15 men who work with WAW.Â They explored why they are working with WAW, why they support women's rights, the challenges, and how it has changed them.
May 18, 2015
We met with the First Lady of Afghanistan, ambassadors from India and Italy, and then Member of Parliament (MP) Shukria Barakzai, with the goal of supporting Women for Afghan Women (WAW).Â And of course, we have photos of the group with each one of them -- seems to be an Afghan tradition.
May 15, 2015
It has been three days and it feels like a whirlwind of weeks!
Sunday was International Women's Day.Â We visited the women's and children's shelter in Kabul.Â It's in a secret location because the women have cases pending in the courts and/or serious disputes with family.Â Most are involved with forced engagements or marriages, the woman has objected, and the families have not accepted the woman's wishes. This often leads to running away and, in the worst cases, killings.
May 14, 2015
The adventure has begun!
I spent some time by myself waiting in the Kabul airport, and made some interesting observations from under my shawl.Â It is customary for men to hold hands in the Middle East.Â A younger woman was yelling at the Emirates people (no head scarf, jeans, and no fear).Â An older woman was sitting near me in a wheelchair and she asked for help. She didnâ€™t speak English but she communicated and I figured out what she wanted with no words â€“ loved it!
May 13, 2015
I know, why on earth would an American woman--a CEO of a busy Federal and nonprofit contracting firm--voluntarily travel to a place like Afghanistan? Friends and family thought I was crazy.
The simple answer is, I have spent most of my career expanding rights for vulnerable populations in the U.S., and had a personal interest in making a difference in a place where so many women are horribly mistreated â€“ with rape, acid attacks, mutilation, torture, attempted murder.