In Afghanistan, many jobs are not considered traditionally or culturally appropriate for women. Families are often reluctant to allow females members to work in male-dominated workplaces. With less than 26 percent employed in the civil service, many women in Afghanistan are overcoming these cultural restrictions by pursuing their careers of choice.  

Walwala is one of such women. She is a graduate of USAID Promote: Women in Government (WIG) internship program. With support from her family, Walwala pursued a career to work in government. Soon after completing a one-year internship program with WIG, she started working as a Transportation Manager at a government agency in Herat. She currently supervises 11 staff.  

According to the Central Statistics Organization, the government office where Walwala works employs the least number of women, with eight percent of female employees. Working in a male-dominated workplace was challenging for Walwala. This was the first time that a woman had ever held the position. She initially faced resistance from those she supervised and were not supportive of her new leadership.

Walwala used the skills she had learned in her WIG internship to overcome these obstacles. By working closely with her supervisees to build their capacity and maintain the principles of professionalism in the workplace, she soon earned their respect. “This [is] all happened because I applied all the management and leadership tips obtained during the one-year internship program. Thanks to WIG for making me a good manager and a leader. The drivers are now easy to manage and carry out their duties officially under my supervision”. She encourages other women to pursue government careers, saying, “Let’s serve our government together with our male colleagues”.

WIG is training over 3,000 female interns for government careers. As of October 2018, the WIG project has enrolled over 3,900 women in the internship program and has helped more than 370 women secure employment.  

One woman overcame cultural obstacles to lead a team of men, using the leadership skills developed during a one-year internship with USAID Promote: Women in Government

Walwala speaking to her male colleagues about transportation issues for government employees.
“I encourage other women to face the challenges and identify solutions to eliminate obstacles that discourage women from working in government,” she stated.