How a woman in Afghanistan is fighting the Taliban

Her small effort is actually a storm in the ocean, keeping in mind her social context.

 |  3-minute read |   17-03-2017
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While India debates on the nuances of feminism and the distinctions between a feminist and a feminazi and the various meanings of women empowerment and human rights, let us find out what it means for an ordinary woman in Afghanistan who is not even allowed to move outside her home in most situations.

“I’m here so that I can learn something, so that I can serve my village and country,” says Abida. “I’m really proud to be able to do this. I make efforts to study as hard as I possibly can.”

Abida Nowroz, a native of Jalalabad, is training to be a nurse in a country where women’s rights have little space in the patriarchal scheme of things. However, she is determined to change the situation in the repressive society.

Her small effort is actually a storm in an ocean, keeping in mind her social context. She comes from a place where traditionally women have been restricted to the home and are prevented from venturing outside.

“I don’t waste even a single day without any kind of learning,” explains Abida.

Globally, Afghanistan has extremely high infant and maternal mortality rates - in fact, one of the highest in the world. There is utter absence of healthcare facilities, particularly in rural areas. Together with a paucity of female health workers, the situation means that several Afghan women fail to receive basic healthcare that they desperately need.

abida1-embed_031717035610.jpg Abida is part of the first batch of graduates who would bring desperately needed healthcare to women in the remotest of areas.

“I do not want to see mothers die on their way to clinics and healthcare centres, or see their children become orphans,” explains Abida.

Abida will graduate from the training school in 2017 and will work in the poorest villages of her province in Afghanistan. But she is not alone in her efforts to change the situation of women in Afghanistan. She has 200 other colleagues - all fired by the same passion to serve their society and ensure women’s rights.

The Jalalabad nursing school is one among six spread across the country and will be training more than 200 nurses every year. They have been set up by the ministry of public health of Afghanistan and supported by the UNDP. The objective of the nursing centre is to raise a new generation of female health workers.

Abida is part of the first batch of graduates who would bring desperately needed healthcare to women in the remotest of areas and reach cut-off communities.

Throughout history and particularly during the Taliban rule in the last decade of the 20th century, women were a repressed lot. The Taliban prohibited them from going to work and decreed they could not leave their homes until they were accompanied by a male family member. And when they did go out they were ordered to wear a head to toe all-cover burqa.

Women continue to struggle for basic freedoms and independence in a society that is chiefly male dominated. Violence against women is high in Afghanistan but things are changing for the better as the country slowly makes its way to progress.

Also read: India needs to side with Afghanistan to isolate Pakistan


Muqbil Ahmar Muqbil Ahmar @muqbil_ahmar

The writer is a theatre activist, film critic and blogger who wants to bring harmony in society. Music, poetry and food are his passions.

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