When Bakht Mina* first began her one year internship program with the USAID Promote: Women in Government project, she struggled to be confident in herself and be assertive in group settings. As an Afghan woman in a male-dominated country, she grew up knowing women had fewer opportunities than men to succeed, and felt this gender inequality in her family and her academic career at university. This gender inequality contributed to her lack of confidence and made her appear more introverted in group settings.

During her internship with the project, Bakht Mina learned the five core functions of civil service and soft-skills that boosted her self-confidence and ability to work in groups. Bakht Mina obtained a job in the Administrative Office of the President (AoP) as a Planning Manager in the procurement department after her internship.

As a junior employee of the government, Bakht Mina faced many challenges in her new role, which she overcame by using her knowledge and skills from her one year internship and through participating in a women’s circle in her department.  When Bakht Mina joined AoP, she worked to build her professional relationships with other employees in her department and observed how they work in a team. Her outreach led to being invited to join a women’s circle full of other women in her department. These women were welcoming and shared their experiences with her. They continue to support Bakht Mina and respond to any of her questions related to her job that she would not feel comfortable asking someone else. “This has increased my confidence, and I am not as introverted.

I overcame lifelong challenges and now feel more confident to talk with other employees, work together with them in teams and complete an assigned task.” Bakht Mina is now interested in building her career in this field and foresees herself in a ministerial position in government in the future. “Joining the women’s circles in government, will help me to further improve skills, boost my relationships with others and to be in a decision making role in government soon.”  The USAID Promote: Women in Government program works to increase and advance the number of women in decision-making roles within the Afghan Civil Service and to empower a critical mass of women in government that will better represent women’s interest in Afghanistan.

*Name changed for security reasons