Posted by: Editor | October 18, 2008

Hazara Women, “Quiet Revolution”

Bamiyan: Carlotta Gall of New York Times has reported about a “quiet revolution” in Bamiyan. Here are the snippets of the report.

“Far away from the Taliban insurgency, in this most peaceful corner of Afghanistan, a quiet revolution is gaining pace. Women are driving cars — a rarity in Afghanistan — working in public offices and police stations, and sitting on local councils. There is even a female governor, the first and only one in Afghanistan. In many ways this province, Bamian, is unique. A half-dozen years of relative peace in this part of the country since the fall of the Taliban and a lessening of lawlessness and disorder have allowed women to push the boundaries here. Most of the people in Bamian are ethnic Hazaras, Shiite Muslims who are in any case more open than most Afghans to the idea of women working outside the home.”

Second Lt. Nahida Rezai, 25, was the first woman to join Bamiyan Police.

Second Lt. Nahida Rezai, 25, was the first woman to join Bamiyan Police. Photo by Moises

“Fear of armed militiamen left women afraid even to walk in front of the police station in the town of Bamian, recalled Nahida Rezai, 25, the first woman to join the police force here. “And I came right into the police station,” she said, admitting to some fears. At the beginning, she had some problems. “I received some threats by telephone,” she said. “But now I am working as a police officer, I think nothing can deter me.” Nekbakht, 20, joined the police force, too, and now helps her father, a casual laborer, support the family. They live in a single room tucked into the cliff face of Bamian valley, where homeless refugees have found shelter in caves inhabited centuries ago by Buddhist pilgrims.“It was very difficult to find a job,” she said. “We had economic problems, and with the high prices life was difficult. Finally, I decided if I could not find another job, I should go into the police.” After joining nine months ago, she likes the job so much she says she is encouraging other women to join, too. Indeed, growing economic hardship has helped drive some women to join the work force or to take other bold steps as they try to help their families cope with a severe drought, rising food prices and unemployment.”

Zainab Hussaini, 19, the first female driver in Bamiyan, drives her vehicle with husband.

Zainab Hussaini, 19, the first female driver in Bamiyan, drives her vehicle with husband. Photo by Moises NYT

“That was the case for Zeinab Husseini, 19. Her father, with seven daughters and no sons, says he had little choice when he needed a second driver to help at home. “I like driving,” she said, seated at the wheel of her family’s minibus. “I was interested from childhood to learn to drive and to buy a car. I was the first woman in Bamian to drive.” But over all, it is the return to relative peace here that has allowed for women’s progress, said the governor, Habiba Sarabi, a doctor and educator who ran underground literacy classes during the Taliban regime. “If the general situation improves, it can improve the situation for women,” she said. She pushed to have policewomen so they could handle women’s cases, and there are now 14 women on the force, she said.

In Bamian Province, Mrs. Sarabi, 52, has been the driving force behind women’s progress in public life. Some opponents are still agitating for her removal, Mrs. Sarabi said. “It is not only because they are against women,” she said, “but they do not want to lose power, so they make trouble for the governor.”

Laura Bush meets Governor Sarabi, June, 08, 2008

Laura Bush meets Governor Sarabi, June, 08, 2008

“She mentioned her problems to Laura Bush, the first lady, who visited Bamian in June to show support for education and women’s projects in Afghanistan.”

“The people of Bamian say they accepted a woman as governor in the hope that an English-speaking, development-oriented technocrat like Mrs. Sarabi would deliver jobs and prosperity. In fact, the success of women’s Community Development Councils here has caught the attention of the World Bank, which has been a major donor to the programs and is looking to develop them further. The quiet work being done by women on the councils and in other jobs has helped turn things around for many in Bamian.”

Najiba, a widow, 25, is the first woman head of Community Development Council of Yakawlang District.

Najiba, a widow, 25, is the first woman head of Community Development Council of Yakawlang District.

“Najiba, 48, is a woman in Yakowlang District who lost her husband in the notorious massacre by Taliban forces there in the winter of 2000-1. The Taliban fighters came on horseback, forcing the villagers and townspeople to flee in the night, leaving everything behind. Their shops and homes were set on fire while they sought refuge in the mountains. After the American intervention in Afghanistan and the fall of the Taliban in late 2001, they returned home to nothing, not even a roof over their heads. “I just had one skirt, and I was always patching it,” Najiba said.”


  1. I am just proud of Hazara ladies. And of course the Hazara Men who are so much capable to trust their females and give them a chance. I see we follow the true Turkic tradition where women go side by side their males.
    I am just just proud of Hazaras of Hazarajat. Especially Bamiyan. We have an achievement in the way of development. Lets keep going. Purity is the essence of success. Be yourselves, trust yourselves. Don’t leave it on luck. Face it and say, I will do it. I will help.
    Always be careful of the people who take keen interest in your beliefs. He or she is dangerous.
    Best Wishes.

    • fuck you that you are proud of hazara wich kind of muslim you are you sent your femals out home for money see islam relign what does it say it says that we must provid everything for our femals we must not sent them out for work and they are happay what do thing if i provid everything for such as money,food,dresses etc..everything as you need would you try to work NO never …………

      • @Haroon!
        You don’t even deserve a reply but still I go ahead and give you one. it is never said by Islam that women should not work, though it is said that men are supposed to feed the family. In the case of Bamian women who work, it is never so that their men stay home and the women go out and work. Their work is only there to help their men in Afghanistan’s terrible economical condition, which is worsened by the corrupted government (in which, I am sure ignorant men like you are at its every corner).
        You have mentioned ethnicity a couple of times in your rather stupid comment. To your information, the number of non-Hazara Afghan women far exceeds that of the Hazaras, both here in the West and back there in Afghanistan. You put Islam forward to blame these women. Let me ask you this question; Isn’t it so that Islam is severely against racism and don’t we read in the Book sent by God that people are the same and physical differences are basically for recognizing one another? Unfortunately, most of you people know from Islam only praying 5 times a day (you don’t even do this properly), fasting 30 days, reading the Qoran without having a clue what it means and killing other Muslims. You make me feel sick. We have to live with such barbaric people, who are so prejudiced, fascist and who have no brain to use and gets easily manipulated by Pakistan and Al-Qaeda. I know these words may not make you ”adam” but I feel that you should still be told.

  2. Look how democratic and modern minded people are in Bamiyan, yet there is still little funds injected in the province compare to other provinces where few Hazaras live. I do not personally believe that forign forces and foraign donors are in Afghanistan aiming to contribute towards the country’s peace and prosperity, but just fulfilling there own goals by using the Afghan land for military excercises and waiting to steal natural resources from the country. This is a joke

  3. Yes, that’s the sad reality. That’s why Mrs. Sorabi said once, should Hazaras also join terrorists to get attention of the welfare unions towards Hazarajat.
    Hazaras can do it in a peaceful way by organizing peaceful rallies to get attention.
    And, this is not an artificial broad mindedness of Hazaras of Hazarajat. They were same even in the time of Taliban. No one can accept the Black cloud of Talibanization. Why Pashtuns lack too much to understand???????????

  4. In any civillised and developed civillization, or contury no one can even think that at least 50% or more of the population i mean women can sit at hames.
    if we wnt to become a developed nation of the world WE must apperittiate and promote our wome to come forward in every field of life with the guidance and help of their famillies.
    with a dream that we also be a developed nation of the world some day………

  5. hazara ares a progressive group of people.. i hope they are successful and free one day. I will champion them.

  6. Hazara people are peaceful! If they gain power in Afghanistan they can turn the country into likes of East asian countries that include: South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and China(except with no communist ideas) I am proud to be a Hazara and believe in that my Country will some day be a more “FREE” country where everyone has rights.

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