Susan Atai, is from Herat, Afghanistan. She is a community activist and the CEO of the ADIB-Afghan Development and Inspiration Bureau, an organization working to create economic growth and development within Afghanistan. The organization works to help entrepreneurs and newly established businesses to create positive competitions among the youth in Afghanistan in order to ensure a bright economic future for them. It encourages newly graduated students to take their education field as their business tool and try to make it an economic resource and has successfully established four companies from four fields of studies:
- Naqsh-E-Heray: This group has been graduated from Fine Art faculty and has started their own business.
- AgreeCulture: Agriculture team is working to introduce the successful Herat agriculture fever to the world, so that we can develop this field’s economical values and entrepreneurship.
- iCare: Students and graduated students from medical faculty gathered not just to bring up new ideas to change Health Care system in Afghanistan, but take the main issues people are facing with and suggest solution for them and keep up with the solutions practically.
- Afghan Pars: Civil Engineering Graduated students
Women play many roles in our society including housewives, teachers, doctors, workers and leaders. The situation for women, particularly their visibility in society, has improved since the end of the Taliban regime; however, they continue to face many social challenges. Women are still not considered equal to their male counterparts and their ability to contribute to society remains underestimated.
In particular, house women have always been the most controlled by the male members of their family be it their fathers, brothers or husbands. Due to this social structure, many women in these positions believe they must accept such repressive treatment and then find themselves passing the lifestyle and treatment they receive onto other women.
Women who have working roles, such as doctors and teachers, are the face of change for Afghanistan but they find it challenging to establish their position in society. Some women are even taking leadership roles and working specifically to bring change to the lives of other women.
Changes have come for women in Afghanistan with the introduction of international organizations. Access to education has been a very positive and sustainable change as an increasing number of girls are being given the opportunity to go to school.
The challenges remaining for women can be designated by groups:
Urban women: These women are trying to find or create their space in society and their biggest challenge is to deal with the men standing in their way. They face unhealthy social divisions, resistance from religious people and their abilities are underestimated in general.
Poor Urban women: For this group, unfortunate economic circumstances are the biggest challenge they face. Surprisingly, this group is very eager to improve and gain access to education for themselves and their children; however the cost of receiving an education is an issue. Most of their families prefer that they work rather than study.
Rural women: Oppressive cultural traditions are the biggest threat to rural women. These traditions are perpetuated by men with little understanding of women’s rights.
In order to bring equality to women in Afghanistan, male attitudes need to change. It is a male dominated country that gives men the power to make all the decisions in a family, ultimately leaving women powerless. To fight for their equality, women must be brave and come to understand their rights as this will advance their cause and guarantee their future success.
I believe that whatever happens in our lives is determined by us. That means women must empower each other for a better future to make society accept them as an effective force that can bring positive changes for everyone.
My greatest hope for Afghan women is that they can achieve the societal status that they truly deserve. I also hope they will come to find how important it is to provide support to other women and realize what strength they can build with such a support network.