On October 1, 2015, I went to an event called A Conversation with Afghanistan's First Female Mayor. In a relatively small auditorium at Brown University, I was introduced to a very interesting women, Azra Jafari. She had come to visit us from Afghanistan to share her story and experience as the first female mayor of Nili, a mountainous town in the Daikundi province of Afghanistan.
Meet Azra Jafari...
As a female she says the religious leader of the town came over to her to tell her that this is not a job for a lady. Afghan women need not worry themselves with government he told her. This plays into the age old tradition of men putting women down as not being capable of doing the same work.
She quickly got to work on making her town what she knew it could be. With no budget, no office, no workers, and no tools, she literally rolled up her sleeves and got her hands dirty. She rented an apartment, she got a shovel, and she recruited local volunteers to help build the roads in the town. She travelled to the capital to ask for money from the governor, but no luck. Still little by little she got more volunteers, some donations and continue working hard with hand tools to build roads and recruit teachers to put together a local school. Soon the same man who put her down, came to thank her for her awesome work.
As recognition of her work grew, with her being the only female mayor, and with her continued perseverance she started working with international organizations including the U.S. and Australian Army to help build more roads, an airport, schools and a hospital.
She also took action to give women in her town opportunities. She recognized how poorly women are treated in afghanistan and setup a march for equal rights in her providence. She also helped setup an arts and crafts show to help promote the local talent of the women in the community. Thought this course, we have discussed and read about several different struggles that women face in society. Azra Jafari is a prime example of one of a woman being marginalized.
In this class, we have also talked about feminism. Rowe talked about the history of feminism and all the changes that it has gone through. Azra continues that struggle on another continent. I consider Azra to be a feminist because she fought hard to get ahead while literally being hunted down by militants for being a women in power. She marched veiled up to protect herself and in harsh climate to travel to the capital and ask for funds to help women and people of her town. She also marched in the street of Nili with the local women to protest for equal rights. Hearing and talking to her I realized she is an extraordinary woman, but also a normal down to earth person.
It was an inspiring event. If you didn't have a chance to attend, you can meet Azra Jafari in this short video.