Woman gov­er­nor toils in a man’s world

The Myanmar Times - - World -

SUR­ROUNDED by male ad­vis­ers and con­de­scend­ing “mansplain­ers”, Masooma Muradi holds her own against a deep un­der­swell of sex­ism in a so­ci­ety un­ac­cus­tomed to women ex­er­cis­ing author­ity.

Break­ing new ground as Afghanistan’s only fe­male gov­er­nor, Ms Muradi’s as­cent to the top post in re­mote Daikundi prov­ince is a re­mark­able feat in Afghanistan, where stub­born pa­tri­ar­chal tra­di­tions are at odds with pro­gres­sive ideas about a woman’s place in the world.

But barely a year after Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani ap­pointed Ms Muradi, her job hangs by a thread, with grow­ing calls for her ouster from re­li­gious con­ser­va­tives and op­po­nents.

It high­lights the tra­vails of be­ing the only woman in an over­whelm­ingly male pre­serve.

“Peo­ple claim to be open-minded but many can­not bear hav­ing a woman in this po­si­tion,” Ms Muradi, 37, said, sink­ing into an over­stuffed sofa in her of­fice in here, dec­o­rated with faux sun­flow­ers and a large por­trait of a pout­ing child.

“I won’t al­low men to hush me up – so­ci­ety is not used to that from a woman,” she added.

Barely 1.5 me­tres tall, Ms Muradi’s diminu­tive frame and soft de­meanour be­lies her steely in­stinct for sur­vival.

The mother-of-two was hand­picked by Mr Ghani to lead Daikundi, hemmed in by in­sur­gency-wracked prov­inces.

But protests erupted even be­fore she ar­rived in Daikundi, with po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents – al­most all men –pil­lo­ry­ing her lack of gov­er­nance ex­pe­ri­ence.

Ms Muradi has since man­aged to hold on to the job, but the re­sent­ment was pal­pa­ble when she re­cently stepped out here with AFP.

“Use­less,” one man barked as she passed by.

“Maybe she should be a gov­er­nor just for women,” another growled.

Women have made gi­ant strides since the Tal­iban regime was ousted in 2001, but they are still ab­sent from pub­lic life. –

Photo: AFP

Afghan Hazara tribe fe­male gov­er­nor of Daikundi prov­ince Masooma Muradi (left) with prison­ers at a fe­male de­ten­tion cen­tre in Nili, cap­i­tal of Daikundi prov­ince.

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