Rula Ghani, Afghanistan's First Lady, has long advocated for women to play a greater role in the nation's economy. Mrs. Ghani is among a growing number of world leaders calling for women to play a greater role in Afghanistan’s future.
Support from the West
Former first lady of the United States Laura Bush (link) and Afghan first lady Rule Ghani met recently to urge U.S. lawmakers to continue supporting Afghan development. The two women have developed a close bond over the years as they have both fought for a better Afghanistan. Now, they share what CNN has called a "steely determination" to improve the lives of Afghan women.
Many American women were unaware at the plight and oppression of Afghan women until after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Since that time, Mrs. Bush and several other world leaders have joined with a growing number of supporters for women in Afghanistan.
Women are Key to Peace and Economic Stability in Afghanistan
Mrs. Ghani recently addressed a crowd from a stage at the Seventh Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA VII). Afghanistan has already broken into regional and world trade markets. This progress is exciting, and increasing female economic participation will only help the nation grow further.
According to international relief organizations, Afghan women are becoming more present in society. They are participating more in government organizations, businesses, and schools. They now hold powerful positions in government and private sector organizations. This progress is encouraging. However, the road has been long.
She emphasized that everyone needs to work together to boost female economic participation. All Afghan men and women are responsible for working together to help Afghanistan reach sustainable economic stability. After all, excluding Afghanistan's 16 million women from the marketplace would be a real waste of human capital.
Men Play a Role in Opening Opportunities for Afghan Women
When he was inaugurated President, Ashraf Ghani publicly thanked his wife for her invaluable support. He explained that Mrs. Ghani would have a public role in his administration. Mrs. Ghani sees this public announcement as a door that has been opened for her. Now, she is now opening doors for all of the women in her country.
Mrs. Ghani has said she was disturbed by the manner women were treated under Taliban rule. After all this is not the Afghanistan she had remembered from her youth. Afghan women had been respected as strong, productive members of society.
President and Mrs. Ghani stand as an example of how important men are in helping Afghan women. Stigmas regarding women being educated and working outside the home are slowly going away. Change is coming, and it will only come faster as fathers, husbands, sons, and brothers join the movement.
New Opportunities for Women in Afghanistan
Economic well being and political peace can only be built with the assistance of women. Unfortunately, however, women are impacted by violence and conflict disproportionately across the world. The United Nations recently passed a resolution to this effect, hoping to get women more involved in peacekeeping processes. However, they have also succeeded in creating and sustaining peace in their countries and communities. In order to build peace and resolve conflict worldwide, we all must support women's leadership and encourage political participation. Men and women alike must band together to create new opportunities for Afghan women. Thanks to the efforts of Mrs. Ghani and other leaders like her, Afghan women can look forward to a brighter future.
WATCH Rula Ghani at the United States Institute of Peace