Women in Bamyan build a road with their bare hands
United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)
By Jaffar Rahim
March 11, 2009
One enterprising woman in Bamyan province has
persuaded the women in her village to volunteer and
build a road.
Zainab Rezai, 45, who returned from Iran four years
ago, works as a midwife in the local hospital. She
says didn't choose this profession because of economic
reasons but because she saw the women in her district
suffering from maternal mortality.
Just outside town in Darai Azdar, which means
Dragon's Valley, the villagers had no proper transport
connection to the main town. In response the women in
the valley decided to take the matter into their own
hands and picked up shovels to build a road.
"I gathered seventy women to volunteer and build
the road. We were tired of waiting for the Government
to respond to our request for a road," said Zainab
Rezai, the head of the Women's Community Development
Council in Darai Azdar village.
Bamyan province is home to two famous giant Buddhas
destroyed by Taliban and the first national park of
Band-i-Amir. But there are no paved roads to the
neighbouring provinces and many isolated villages have
no tracks for vehicles. Thousand of returnees are
living with out basic infrastructure in refugee
settlements and one of these refugee settlements is
located in "Darai Azdar".
As head of the development council Rezai has
implemented many infrastructure projects in her
village: "We had many problems going to the town and
that's why we first tried to persuade men to work on
the road, when it didn't work women took up shovels in
their own hands."
Rezai has implemented 20 infrastructure projects
which include a sanitation and solar power project for
a refugee settlement.
She says she faces many problems from her male
council members: "Even this time when women started to
work on the road they were stopping us and saying you
are dishonouring the men," she said. "I told them it
has nothing to do with honour; we are just trying to
build our settlement."
Zainab Rezai is a mother to four children and one
daughter recently graduated from University. She
believes women have an important role in building
society and says that educated mothers can bring up
educated children and that's how society builds up.
Rezai is happy to build the road which will benefit
350 families, especially those who need to reach
Following Rezai's efforts a few NGOs have been
attracted to Darai Azdar and there are now hygiene and
literacy classes for women and girls are being taught
computer literacy and science.
She says women in her village will not stop working
until the men in the authority come to a decision.