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Jerri's Journal: Afghanistan's Female Leaders

May 21, 2015

I've met many female leaders working to make a difference in Afghanistan.

Provincial cabinet members: In Mazar, three of the 40 cabinet members in the provincial government are women. They are the Director of Labor and Social Affairs, the Attorney General, and the Director of Women's Affairs.  I asked them what it was like to be the first women. This unleashed a series of stories.  The Governor of the province is a former warlord (anti-Taliban, as I mentioned before) and strongly believes in promoting/advancing women's rights.  So when all the agency heads submit their topics for cabinet meetings, the Governor delights in putting the three women's suggestions first on the agenda! 

Members of Afghanistan Parliament (MPs):  We have met now with four women MPs.  Today we met with the only non-Muslim person in the Parliament; she holds the one seat allotted to Sikhs.  All four have STRONG voices.

Judges:  We attended family court and met several female judges. One of these is head of the whole family court system.  She was hearing a case - which means that the woman told her story, the husband told his story, and both presented evidence. It is customary for another judge to sit in, and today that judge (also a woman) cited Sharia law and sayings from the prophet.  The lead judge forcefully stated that this was a criminal case and the Sharia law was not relevant here.  A victory! 

Afghanistan's Supreme Court:  The President promised during his election campaign that he would appoint a woman to the Supreme Court.  And the game was afoot!  Right after the election, multiple women's rights advocates began pressuring him to appoint the woman.  And one of the weirdest scenarios began unrolling. The President identified three candidates, interviewed them all, and then rejected them all because they were not qualified.  Then the Afghan Women's Network (consortium of all women's groups) submitted three names but that was a no go.  Now, a senior woman on the Human Rights Commission has worked with other women and is planning on presenting a list of five fully qualified candidates tomorrow. 

PREVIOUS

May 13: Jerri Shaw Explores Women's Rights in Afghanistan

May 14: Adventure Begins in Kabul

May 15: International Women's Day in Afghanistan

May 18: Meetings with the First Lady of Afghanistan and Other Diplomats

May 19: Afghan Men on Women's Rights 

May 20: Medical Needs of Women in Afghanistan

Next

May 22: Coming Home

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