Female veterinarians hope to cure inequality
Afghanistan / Freedom for Equality / 16 oct 2017
Three young women are defying expectations and blazing a trail for others by working as veterinarians in Kabul. Career opportunities for women in much of Afghanistan are limited due to societal restrictions and expectations that pressure women into marriage from a young age. The women working in the busy Kabul clinic are an exciting example of the younger generation in Afghanistan, rejecting traditional gender roles and invoking change for the future in their country.
Dr. Maliha Rezaie, Dr. Malalai Haikal and Dr. Tahera Rezayi each faced a number of obstacles in order to become the accomplished professionals they are today. Dr Rezayi, 27, who grew up in Iran after her grandparents moved there to escape civil war in the early 1990s, spoke about the attitude of her extended family towards her career ambitions: “My wider family members were not supportive. Most of them grew up in Afghanistan and thought girls can’t go out.” She however was not deterred. “It made me work harder, to prove everyone wrong. The attitude was that girls can’t do anything and I wanted to show them that girls aren’t less than boys.” Dr Maliha Rezaei, 26, who grew up in Iran as a refugee from the civil war, described how visitors were dumbfounded to see her working at Kabul Zoo in her first job after graduating. She also explained, that despite initial scepticism from some of her family members, she now was perceived as an inspiration for the younger generation in her family. “They started saying to their daughters, you need to go to school so you can be like Dr Maliha.”
The women live with the constant fear of violence and unrest. Dr Rezayi’s uncle was recently severely injured in a truck bomb explosion that killed more than 150 people, and Dr Rezayi herself was merely a few hundred metres from the blast. “Our families are always worried about us” she said. “But we’re used to it. It is normal for us.” The three women are determined to continue their work and to teach and inspire others; all three agree that the most important thing to stifle gender equality is education. For three years, the trio has been leading clinic-based sessions for veterinary students, becoming role models for up and coming women and giving them the opportunity to gain vital experience.