Masooma Muradi

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Sole woman governor in Afghanistan

The Times of India, Aug 02 2016 

Surrounded by male advisors and condescending “mansplainers“, Masooma Muradi -Afghanistan's only female governor -holds her own against a deep underswell of sexism in a society unaccustomed to women exercising authority.

Muradi's ascent to the top post in remote Daikundi province is a remarkable feat in Afghanistan, where stubborn patriarchal traditions are at odds with progressive ideas about a woman's place in the world. But barely a year after President Ashraf Ghani ap pointed Muradi, her job hangs by a thread, with growing calls for her ouster from religious conservatives and opponents. It highlights the travails of being the only woman in an overwhelmingly male preserve.

“People claim to be openminded but many cannot bear having a woman in this position,“ Muradi, 37, said. “I won't allow men to hush me up -society is not used to that from a woman,“ she added. Barely five feet tall, Muradi's diminutive frame and soft demeanour belies her ste ely instinct for survival. The mother-of-two was handpicked by Ghani in Kabul to lead Daikundi, a mosaic of rolling hills and boulder-strewn ridges in central Afghanistan, hemmed in by insurgency wracked provinces. But protests erupted even before she arrived in Daikundi, with political opponents -almost all men -pillorying her lack of governance experience. Despite resentment, she has since managed to hold on to the job. “Useless,“ one man barked in Nili as she passed by.

Women have made giant strides since the Taliban regime was ousted in 2001, but they are still so absent from public life that the social media hashtag #WhereAreTheWomen has gained traction in Afghanistan.

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