Many of the western broadcasted news stories stemming from the Middle East (esp. Afghanistan and Iraq) that concern women present the core reality—women are highly oppressed. However, while reading The New York Times today I came across one of these stories that certainly portrayed the notion of female oppression, but it also displayed a hint of hope and change for Afghani women. Afghanistan is certainly not known for being a country that stands up for women’s rights, but there are some key women in this country who are attempting to transform the strict social structure that is essentially an underlying factor burdening women and causing female hardship.
In the Bamian province of Afghanistan, some women are challenging the status quo by simply taking the driver’s seat, and I mean that literally. As shocking as this may sound to a group of western la femmes, women in Afghanistan are not allowed to drive; in fact, they are not even permitted to leave their homes unless a male relative drives them to their destination. But one woman in particular is testing that norm by driving her father’s vehicle. She claims that her father is rarely home and there are times, especially during emergency situations, when she and her siblings rely on her ability to drive. Even though this is a simple right that she has obtained for herself, it is still an example of female progression in Afghanistan. However, the hope and change does not stop there in Bamian; that is only a single element of the transformation.
Women are also partaking in political careers and other public positions. For instance, Bamian is the only province in Afghanistan that has a female governor; furthermore, females are attempting careers in the police force. So what does this mean for the future? Well, of course, we can assume that women playing a more significant role politically and socially could lead to the enhancement of women’s rights in Afghanistan. Even more so, the Bamian province acts as a model for inhabitants from other provinces to witness which generates a new flow of ideas that could eventually alter the way women are viewed in Afghani society. In any event, there is a change of consciousness in at least one part of Afghanistan which is compelling more women to take on roles that they normally would not have in the past.