A Travel Diary from Afghanistan: Jalalabad/Kabul, 25 September 2014, Day 4

Today we’re planning to meet our female colleagues from Kabul University to discuss how we can further support them. We need to be cautious when we speak to them because they want to be recognized for their ability and don’t want any kind of “special status” that would invoke the jealousy of their male colleagues. “We have to be very, very good, then they will accept us,” says one teacher. Unfortunately, the UNHAS plane arriving from Islamabad has a technical problem and we cannot leave Jalalabad until late in the afternoon. The meeting is therefore postponed to Sunday after our return from Herat.

We spend most of the day going through different security checks and waiting in Jalalabad’s heat, until finally we hear the sound of an aircraft propeller… it really is the little things that make people happy! Before we get on the plane, the Canadian UNHAS pilot personally checks all the items of hand luggage. When it’s my turn, he hesitates and asks if he can search my bag. Men in Afghanistan are not allowed to search women’s bags. This is why there is always a female member of staff to check the women in a partitioned area. I answer, “Sure, I’ll help you”, and take off my headscarf. It seems my traditional clothes have confused him; after all, there are also blond Afghan women. In fact, security management complimented Thurid and me on our clothing before we left. But when we arrive back at the guesthouse in Kabul, the first thing we do is put on a pair of jeans and a blouse again. What a nice feeling!

Text: Julka Jantz - Project Coordinator for the project “Strengthening of Public Administration Education in Afghanistan.”
Online-Editing: Agnes Bressa, Translation: Pearl Wallace
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