AFGHANISTAN – Surrounded by male advisers, Masooma Muradi – Afghanistan’s first female governor – has held her own against deep-rooted sexism in a society unaccustomed to women exercising authority, but she may not last much longer on the job.
Breaking new ground as Afghanistan’s only woman Governor, Ms. Muradi’s ascent to the top post in remote Daikundi Province is a remarkable feat in Afghanistan.
But barely a year after President Ashraf Ghani appointed Muradi, her future in the job hangs by a thread, with growing calls for her ouster from religious conservatives and opponents.
Calls for her removal highlight the painful struggle of being the only woman in an overwhelmingly male-dominated society.
“People claim to be open-minded but many cannot bear having a woman in this position,” Muradi, 37, told AFP.
“I won’t allow men to hush me up ─ society is not used to that from a woman,” she added.
The mother-of-two was handpicked by President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul to lead Daikundi, a mosaic of rolling hills and boulder-strewn ridges in central Afghanistan, surrounded by insurgency-hit provinces.
But protests erupted even before she arrived in Daikundi, with political opponents ─ almost all men ─ ridiculing her lack of governance experience.
Muradi has since managed to hold on to the job, but the resentment was palpable when she recently stepped out in Nili with AFP, trailed by Kalashnikov-toting guards.
“Useless,” one man shouted as she passed by.
“Maybe she should be a governor just for women,” another growled.