This blog is one installment of a three-part series for Aga Khan Foundation’s annual International Women’s Day campaign. We document the journey of one woman as she faces adversity on her path to success. Share your thoughts along the journey by joining the conversation on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #MakeItHappen.
A woman sits at her desk at Roshan. Over 17% of the Afghan telecom company’s managers are women,
though this was not always the case.
An Afghan Woman’s Journey
The city of Kabul may not immediately conjure up images of empowerment, but when it came time to launch Aga Khan Foundation’s third annual International Women’s Day campaign, zeroing in on Afghanistan’s capital was an easy choice. International Women’s Day (March 8) is a day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women all over the world. The day has been recognized since the 1900s and highlights progress in women’s equality and emancipation. As we celebrate the positive strides made by women in the recent decade, we would be remiss to not recognize those women who still fight for change. Many women of Kabul embody the essence of empowerment in their daily lives. They show resilience as they strive for equitable treatment. No one demonstrates this better than Shireen Rahmani.
Roshan is a leading telecommunications provider in Afghanistan. Shireen serves as their Director of Human Resources.
Shireen Rahmani is the Director of Human Resources at Roshan, Afghanistan’s leading telecommunications provider. The company was founded in 2003, the same year Shireen joined the staff. Today, Roshan provides telecom services to over 6 million active subscribers and a network that covers more than 240 cities and towns all over Afghanistan. In a company with over 1,200 employees that has repeatedly won awards for best telecommunications service in Asia, Shireen has in a dozen years made her way up from executive assistant to a member of operations management team, responsible for running the company. She has traveled a long way to get there, across mountains and across social expectations.
Shireen grew up in the Badakhshan province of Afghanistan. Located in northern Afghanistan, nestled on the Tajik border, Badakhshan has the qualities of paradise. With snowy mountaintops, grasslands, and blankets of blue skies, its natural beauty cultivated dreams for her future. She wanted to be a doctor, passed the entry exams, and enrolled in Balkh University to pursue her medical degree. But her dreams were shattered with the rise of the Taliban rule. As the Taliban’s power grew in the late 90s, their leadership imposed harsh regulations on women, eventually banning women’s education and shutting the doors of Balkh University to women.
Forced to return to Badakhshan away from Taliban reach, Shireen felt determined to continue higher education. She began medical school in Badakhshan, but dropped out due to the lower standard of education. After having to forego a career in the medical profession, Shireen went in search of a new dream. Eventually, she married, but did not lose her zest for a career. Unwilling to let her opportunities be diminished by oppressive rule, she sought to contribute to society one way or another. “Afghanistan is a male-dominated country,” she said. “As women, we have to stand up.”
Stay tuned to find out how Shireen’s crushed medical dream was replaced by new opportunities. Join us tomorrow as we journey with her along a winding path of challenges, choice, and courage.
Source: Partnership in action org