Women's Rights

Afghan women bring change to Herat's land-management systems

By Omar

The efforts of educated Afghan women in the Herat Department of Urban Development and Land in western Afghanistan have brought positive changes in the operations of the agency. Almost 50% of the department's staff is comprised of young women who have graduated from Afghan universities, and some have been educated abroad. [Omar]

HERAT -- The efforts of educated Afghan women in the Herat Department of Urban Development and Land have brought positive changes in the operations of the agency.

Almost 50% of the department's staff is comprised of young women who have graduated from Afghan universities, and some have been educated abroad.

With their knowledge, these women have been able to implement a modern land-management system in Herat that has helped prevent strongmen from seizing public lands.

Educated young women lead important sections of the department, said Haris Akhtarzada, director of the agency.


This screenshot from a Salaam Times video shows members of the Herat Department of Urban Development and Land on February 8 at their office. 

"Among our professional staff, 38 are women who hold bachelor's and master's degrees," he said. "They make an important contribution to modernising the land-management system and [protecting] public lands."

"Women who serve at government institutions are role models for integrity and hard work," he added. "The performance of our [female] colleagues at the Department of Urban Development and Land has been very effective in establishing systems and providing services."

In the past six months, the department has prevented 10,000 hectares of land throughout Herat from falling into the hands of land grabbers, whose names have been reported to law enforcement and legal agencies, said Roya Sharifi, a manager of land management at the department.

"We have rolled out new land-management systems with the help of our female colleagues, and the new systems have allowed us to record all the public lands in the city and districts in our database," she added. "No one can [now] steal a single piece of land."

Transformation in land management systems

Women have played a key role in developing the province's land-management systems.

Suhaila Ghafoori, an engineer and manager of the Land Bank at the Herat Department of Urban Development and Land, helped roll out the new database on public lands in Herat.

"I studied construction engineering at Herat University and obtained a master's degree in Geographic Information System (GIS) from [a university] in Thailand, and I am adept in new skills of recording public properties and lands," she said.

"Our goal is to create a system for collecting and storing land information in Herat Province," Ghafoori said, adding that the system would help prevent land grabs.

Women's service is just as effective as that of men in government institutions, said Sima Ghausi, a civil servant at the Herat Department of Urban Development and Land.

"We women have received an education, and we want to serve our country and people," she added. "We are equipped with new training that can help us contribute to building a new Afghanistan."

These educated young women want their achievements to be preserved in peace talks, and they demand an active role for women in civil service if the Taliban become part of the government, according to Ghausi.

"The Taliban have left a shameful history in Afghanistan, and they have always created obstacles to women's work and have been the enemy of their growth and education," she said. "But that time has passed now, and no one can prevent women from growth."

If the Taliban make peace and become part of the government, they will no longer be able to restrict women's work in civil service and [broader] society, she added.

Women in civil service

The government of Afghanistan is committed to bringing women to the civil service, say local authorities in Herat Province.

Women's presence at government institutions in Herat has increased severalfold compared with a few years back, said Munesa Hasanzada, the deputy governor of Herat.

"Currently, 38% of civil servants in Herat Province are women," she said. "There are a considerable number of women serving in leadership positions at government institutions, and a few key government agencies are led by women."

Women in government have shown that they have great capabilities, and they are able to outpace men in serving their people and country, added Hasanzada.

"Women lead government institutions such as the Department of Treasury, the Nuclear Energy Agency, the Department of Economy and Government Printing Press [in Herat Province]," she said. "In addition, a number of deputy director positions at several key government institutions are held by women."

Women work with integrity and enthusiasm in government institutions, where they serve the public and play an important role, said Jahantab Taheri, a member of the Herat provincial council.

Educated young women working in any government or private institution have had great achievements as they have the necessary qualifications and management skills, she added.

"Female professionals should be given more opportunities to serve at government institutions," said Taheri. "If women are given more managerial and decision-making roles, they will be able to bring a change in governance and fight against corruption."

The country has many educated and capable women who are able to bring important changes in the government and society, she said.

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Salaam Times' reports on the progresses in Afghanistan including construction of dams, schools, bridges and other developments in the country give hopes to the people. Other media outlets do not publish anything other than sad news which has made people of the country hopeless, and most of the media outlets which publish news about the fighting and troubles in Afghanistan are funded by Iran. Iran is a hardliner enemy of the democratic system in Afghanistan and Iran is trying to avoid establishment of an inclusive and popular government in Afghanistan so that it can reach to its goals. The government should prevent mercenary media and instead encourage media outlets such as Salaam Times so that they can educate the people.


I think even now the women's share in the government affairs is little. The government should try to provide women of the whole country with opportunity of education so that we can see women's presence in administrations of all provinces. There are still provinces in Afghanistan where even 50 girls do not take university entrance exam, and when so, how can development occur in that province? First, we have to raise the level of women's education and then we provide them with work opportunities.


The progress of women in Herat province is really tangible, but in the south of the country women have not made any progress. In the south, even people do not let their women to study. A limited number of people just let their daughters to go to school, and when they graduate from school, they do not allow them to take the university entrance exam and choose the faculties of their choice. This illiteracy has prevented women from progression and their presence in government offices is low. The government should try to pave the way for the education of the people of society, both men and women, so that we can raise the level of literacy in our country and build our country.


Over the past twenty years, women have made significant progressions in various fields in Afghanistan. Even we can say that women in the country have made more progress than the women of the neighboring countries, especially Iran. Women work in high positions such as minister, deputy minister, governor, mayor, district governor and even as director of criminal police, but in Iran, you cannot see women working in such high-ranking government positions. Despite the war and insecurity in the country, women have improved a lot. One good thing about women in government administrations is that women neither embezzle, nor do they take bribes or betray. President Ashraf Ghani is working hard for the growth and development of women.