Leading the way for better women’s rights
Maryam Rahmani’s ambition is to education woman about their human rights so that they can understand and fight for themselves.
She is, the oldest of four, who took refuge in Pakistan with her family during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the late 1980s. She studied in a Pakistani school until 10th grade. Then in 1995 her family moved back to Kabul. She briefly attended a middle school before the Taliban took over Kabul city early in 1996. During this time the Taliban banned girls from school, and Maryam, like millions of other Afghan girls, was at a loss.
“My father has remained my biggest inspiration and the main reason I have been able to continue with a demanding job that very often means travelling to the remote regions and returning home late from work; things that are frowned upon for a young woman in the Afghan society,” states a grateful Maryam.
In Kabul in 1996 Maryams father, who is a strong believer in education, did not give up on her studies. He hired private tutors to teach Maryam and her siblings at home. As the Taliban continued to restrict women’s freedom in every sense, running home-based schools and private tutoring became too risky. Maryam’s father could not bear that his children were being deprived of education. As a result of this the family moved back to Peshawar, Pakistan. Maryams father constantly supported and encouraged her to stay strong and move ahead.
Maryam eventually finished school in Pakistan and proceeded to study for a diploma in Business Administration. In 1999, to greater her chances of employment, Maryam took a Management and Business Communications course. This course was offered to her by the Afghan Women Resource Center (AWRC). She had no idea that she was embarking on a long-term relationship with AWRC. After finishing the six-month management course, she started working at AWRC as an intern.
In a span of two years from 2000 to 2002, she was not only hired full-time, but was also promoted three times from a program assistant to an officer. She continued to progress and became the head of the nutrition program, supervising 30 staff.
With hard work and strong commitment, Maryam continued making great strides at the organization. It was her dedication to the organization that made her a top choice for initiating and leading the efforts to launch AWRC’s Afghanistan office. This took place in 2002 when the headquarters were moved to Kabul after the Taliban regime was toppled. The small office she launched in Kabul with only 8 staff in 2002 has now grown to employ around 140 staff, 80 percent of which are women.
Watch Maryam talk about her vision for Afghan Women
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