While we’re busy finalizing a Berkshire Essential called Women and Leadership, I want to share something that Berkshire Publishing staffer Kara Lozier posted from Afghanistan, where she worked for two months this spring. Kara handles customer service for Berkshire Publishing, and working here is a great fit because her real passion is international education. She explains in this first post from Kabul that culture shock was far greater than she expected, especially after having had a relatively easy time living in Bishkek (Kara gets around). I was especially interested in what she had to say about the way Afghan men help their daughters and sisters to step outside traditional roles. While it’s easy to find examples of women supporting male leaders, Kara made me see that men also provide crucial support to female leaders, and leaders to be.
My time in Kabul has reinforced my belief that more efforts need to be made to support Afghan men. The hopes and triumphs of most Afghan women would not be possible without the support of Afghan men. Yasa, who founded Star Educational Society, is largely responsible for the opportunity his only two sisters enjoyed studying high school and college in the U.S. He has been instrumental in helping many other Afghan girls to enjoy similar opportunities including the scholarship of my Afghan daughter, Masooma, to seek her undergraduate degree at the Asian University for Women in Bangladesh. Yasa has been a true ally in the fight for women’s rights in Afghanistan. Masooma’s brother, Mohammad, delayed his university studies to support his wife while she finished her degree first and is currently teaching her to drive.
My female Fulbright advisees are only able to pursue this opportunity because of the blessings they receive from their fathers, brothers and husbands. One of my Afghan sons, Ali, delayed his dreams of attending university so that he could support his family enabling his younger sisters to give up carpet-weaving and return to school. Farida, the 46-year-old mother of another Afghan son, Sameer, is able to study law because Sameer’s father encourages and supports her. This is not a popular decision in a conservative and patriarchal society and the men in the families carry the burden and judgment of such decisions. Farida’s five sisters never would have received university educations without the blessings of Sameer’s grandfather. It is to Dr. Ahmad Sarmast’s credit that 50% of ANIM students are girls. When Afghanistan has more strong, open-minded men like these, women’s rights will improve exponentially and it is with great pride that I know so many of the men who are contributing to this trend. Read the full post here at Kara’s blog and here’s a bit about her educational work.
Kara will be glad to send advance information about Women and Leadership, including full Table of Contents and list of contributing authors. Email her: kara@berkshirepublishi