Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, August 15th, 2018

Role of Women in Social Development Process of Afghanistan

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Role of Women in Social Development  Process of Afghanistan

Social development simply means improvements in the living conditions of human in a society. According to Bilance (1997), “Social Development is the promotion of a sustainable society that is worthy of human dignity by empowering marginalized groups, women and men, to undertake their own development, to improve their social and economic position and to acquire their rightful place in society.” There are many factors which lead to social development in a country such as enhancement in education, health, economic, employment and etc. Despite all the challenges associated with being a female in a male dominant country like Afghanistan, Afghan women have been playing a major role in social development process of our country from 2001 onwards.
To begin with, there are many female scholars who teach in different schools and universities just like their male counterparts, despite all odds. Through providing quality education, they aim at brining positive changes in the life of Afghan pupils. With the beginning of the transitional government, many children, especially girls, could attend school for the first time after many years. Girls’ schools were reconstructed and reopened; girls continued going to school without fear of being insulted and molested. According to UNAMA, in the education sector, more than 40 % of school students are girls and 30 % of school-teachers are women, while at the university level, 21 % of students are women and 15 % of their instructors are women. Female have been playing a crucial role in strengthening the education system, working in different leading position, of Afghanistan. Dr. Farida Mohmand, the ex-Minister of higher education and university professor is a compelling example of this. Under her leadership, the Kankor (public entrance exam) process, become more transparent than before.
Likewise, Afghan women’s contribution in agriculture and ultimately in economic growth of the country has been priceless.  In fact, the role of Agriculture in economic and social development is beyond compare. It doesn’t only increase the employment rate, but also supplies all our basic necessities. Agriculture has been the primary occupation of rural people, particularly for women. Afghan women have been involved in agricultural activities alongside males in rural areas besides doing domestic coheres. Major agricultural activities such as seeding, irrigation, harvesting are mostly done by females. In addition, a large portion of women, living in the rural areas, are involved in animal husbandry and  producing  dairy products such as milk, yoghurt, cheese and many other forms of dairy products, which is a source of income for the women and people who are involved in the selling process. Eventually, their crops and products are being exported to different national and international markets, which lead to economic growth of the country.
Furthermore,they are promoting the health and well-being of their society and people. During Taliban women were kept behind closed doors and were treated discriminately. Women were forbidden to visit any male doctors; there was no female doctor to treat female patients at all. When they fell ill, a male member used to bring her medications in most cases. Conversely, after collapse of Taliban regime, they were no more treated coldly; instead, they were provided with the right to get education and contribute to the well-being of their people. Now, unlike past, they work as prominent specialist, doctors, nurses and midwives in different hospitals and health clinics throughout the country. They provide health services to the patients, particularly pregnant women, in the most marginalizedand extremely conservative villages, where male don’t want women to be treated by a male doctor.
Fourthly, female entrepreneurs are playing an important in economic development of their country. Women’s economic empowerment plays a crucial role in a family’s survival, increases her decision-making power, and improves her shared responsibilities with her spouse. Women in general, specifically in Afghanistan, have taken part in this arena by becoming employees or business owners. Speaking bluntly, despite the challenges women entrepreneurs face in the country, they have been operating several types of business that can be run or operated only by woman whereasthe man cannot initiate or is not interested to run those businesses. To further illustrate the point, business like handy craft, clothing, or fashion does not seem to be interesting for men and this gives the women a better opportunity to contribute in social development of their country as traders. Fouzia Hariri, the president of Hasty Trading Co, can be the shining example of the Afghan female entrepreneurs contributing to economy of Afghanistan and social development as a whole.  “I am working, and I want to be a positive role model for women. For each new project I do, I want to find a job for women,” Said Fouzia Hariri. Her company presents different product such as dried fruits, nuts, saffron, carpets and marble to both national and international markets. Recently, in 2016, she had been able to sign a $4 million project for womenin an exhibition on July 19-20, 2016, in New Delhi, India. In brief, entrepreneurship has a direct impact on the social development of Afghanistan and the women.
To put it in a nutshell, considering the fact thatsocial development is more concerned with human welfare, it can be concluded that Afghan women have been playing a critical role in social development process of their country as a teacher, leader, doctor and merchant.

Murtaza Haidary is Research Associate of BRAC Afghanistan

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