Afghan women express pride in renovating historic palace
KABUL: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has earmarked $20 million to renovate Darul Aman Palace, located 16 km from the capital Kabul.
The palace, which was Afghanistan’s capital under reformist King Amanullah, who achieved independence from Britain in 1919, is a source of historical pride for many Afghans.
The long-awaited renovation involves 100 Afghan engineers and staff, a fifth of whom are women.
“It’s a big honor to be part of the team restoring this once-magnificent palace,” female engineer Tahira Mohammadi told Arab News.
Once completed, the palace will serve as Afghanistan’s biggest national gallery. “We’ve removed tons of hanging concrete walls, buckled roofs and scrappy metals,” female engineer Zahra Jaffari told Arab News.
The renovation includes “new power, air-conditioning, ventilation, water and other systems that a modern national gallery requires,” she said, adding that the building’s exterior will be restored to its original form to preserve its historical significance.
“As a female engineer, I’m proud to work on restoring this historic building, and to take part in rebuilding my country.”
By working alongside men on such a project, the female engineers say they have overcome taboos.
Jaffari attributes such progress to the international community’s presence and support for Afghanistan.
As with any project involving women, she says the female engineers fear reprisals by radical groups such as the Taliban and Daesh.
“We’re aware of the possible threats,” said Jaffari. “Inside the building, security is provided by police and guards, but outside we have to look out for ourselves.”
One-fifth of engineers and staff tasked with renovating Kabul’s Darul Aman Palace are women.