It is rare in Afghanistan to see a father and daughter standing together in front of an audience to speak. Even bolder is when they jointly tell the world about their belief in education, women’s rights and the necessity of both in a country that has enjoyed little of either.
But that is exactly what happened on January 11, when Kabul University Professor Mohammad Matin Monis and his 22-year-old daughter Waghma took to the stage to laud the USAID Promote Women’s Leadership Development’s ground-breaking Jawana program.
With his daughter at his side, Matin Monis told an audience of 300 youn g women and assembled dignitaries that, “this educational program represents a major step forward in the leadership of women in Afghanistan.
“It will help enable Afghan women to accept key responsibilities and put our country on the pathway towards development.”
During an interview the following day, Waghma said she first became acquainted with Jawana while searching for work at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. Because her father is a professor and her mother a schoolteacher, they quickly agreed that she would benefit from leadership training.
Waghma recalled how she interacted with others before the course. “I used to be very shy and get angry about small things,” she said.
But now? “The course has given me self-confidence, trust in myself that I can do whatever I want to, and simply accept failure,” she added. “Before joining Jawana, whenever I faced a failure I used to get disappointed. But now I accept the failure and then evaluate them and try to prevent them.”
Her father, Matin Monis said he witnessed a profound change.
“In Afghanistan we keep our females mostly at home — which is killing their self-confidence,” he said. “Courses like this give them the courage and self-confidence to stand on their own feet.”
“A society is never built only on men,” he added. “Women’s participation can contribute on a large scale to build prosperous societies. Teaching a woman is like teaching a generation — I think it is time for women to talk to each other and change our world.”