The theme of my trip to Afghanistan, 3 months ago now, was the celebration of International Women’s day but we almost didn’t get to go. For days we had been hearing about the fair-like atmosphere of the celebration, women selling goods, speeches (Karzai made a surprise visit the year before), and every day we went to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs for our official invitations. 2 days before the celebration we waited in the car while our tour guide went into the ministry, he came out saying ‘I have good news and bad news: the good news is I finally have your official invitations, the bad news is that the festivities have been postponed until the day after you leave because of the Kabul city-wide furlough days.’ I was speechless, I had spent so much time around men, in their space, I wanted to finally be in the women’s sphere. I had been so looking forward to this day, this was what the whole trip was about. I was beyond disappointed
We came up with an alternative plan. We had been discussing taking day trips to other provinces and cities and one of the ideas was to go to the Panjshir Valley to see Massoud’s tomb and the countryside. On the way we would go through Parwan province and see if they had an any Women’s Day celebrations since they weren’t subject to the Kabul city furlough. We found out that they had a celebration in a hotel in Charikar, the capital of Parwan province. After being thoroughly patted down we made our way upstairs and were seated in the front row of the celebration, next to the Governor and other dignitaries. We stood out, as always, this time because we had men with us in the womens’ section. The format was to be similar to Kabul’s celebration, speeches, skits and songs, formal gift-giving, followed by a women’s bazaar.
I took some terrible footage, here is a clip from the invocation:
After that we heard from the Governor, who told us many stories, including ones from the Qur’an about the role of women in society. Then a speech from the Minister of Women’s affairs, a children’s choir, a women judge spoke with passion, a skit about domestic abuse, and women of the police force were awarded plaques and gifts. They asked us to buy things at the women’s bazaar before we left, so we bought some cakes which we gave to a poor child on our way out That afternoon we went to the Panjshir Valley.