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Adela Raz Comments on the Struggle of Young Women in Positions of Power

January 9, 2018

 

Adela Raz (Simmons 2008 | Tufts Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy 2010), Deputy Foreign Minister of Economic Affairs of Afghanistan commented on the struggle of young women in positions of power in the January 9, 2018 New York Times article, Cutting Into Afghan Patronage: A Struggle to Make Government Younger by Mujib Mashal.

 

The article describes the hurdles faced by relatively young professional men and women in Afghanistan, who possess quality education and modern perspectives, to attain and work effectively in senior government positions in the face of long-entrenched patronage systems despite President Ashraf Ghani’s strategy to leverage their talent in his bid to transform Afghanistan into a regional hub for trade and transportation between Central and South Asia.

 

Two such young professional appointees, Nader Nadery, who chairs the 400,000 employee Civil Service Commission, and Abdullah Habibzai, who manages 8,000 employees and tens of thousands of contractors as mayor of Kabul, are having some success improving operations and effecting more merit-based recruitment policies in their organizations despite unreasonable expectations and cultural resistance. Not so for their female counterpart, Nargis Nehan, whose recent appointment to the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum was the only one among 12 rejected by parliament.

 

“It was heartbreaking,” said Adela, “She is a strong woman, she is capable and she knows what she is doing. [But] the majority of the men could not process the fact that this woman should be a minister.”

 

Adela, who manages a key portfolio in President Ghani's strategy - regional economic and political cooperation - continues to believe valiantly in herself and her female colleagues, however, despite the disrespect they face on a daily basis in the workplace, from overt harassment by guards to more subtly biased seating at high level meetings. “We are going to be crushed, we will be disappointed, we will be hurt. I have been, a lot of times. But I pulled myself back, and we will have to continue to do so until we become the majority within the system. It is absolutely possible.”

 

“We are going to be crushed, we will be disappointed, we will be hurt. I have been, a lot of times. But I pulled myself back, and we will have to continue to do so until we become the majority within the system. It is absolutely possible.”

 

- Adela Raz (Simmons 2008 | Tufts Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy 2010)

 

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