Field Visit to Afghanistan

Originally emailed on November 29, 2012

So Why Am I Going to Afghanistan?

My organization is running a large civil society project that focuses on helping Afghan citizens more effectively participate in the political process, solve community problems, and demand good governance from their leaders. My organization does this by working with, and helping to strengthen, existing Afghan NGOs and non-profit organizations that do this work.

My role will be to help our local staff understand and address gender more deeply throughout the program. Although some of the NGOs we work with are focused specifically on women’s rights and women’s empowerment, many of them are just focused on democracy-building and good governance. But those programs need to think about gender, too, because a lot of times they only have men around the table and never think about the ways in which men and women are affected differently by those issues. When the program or organization doesn’t specifically focus on women’s issues, they often neglect to include women as participants and organizers, they don’t consider women who could be affected by laws and government programs, and they don’t think about the ways their activities/projects affect men and women in differing ways. So my job is to help them bring that awareness more deeply into their work. Ya know — it’s a small job.

A Little Background Information About Afghanistan

  • There is a 9.5 hour time difference between the east coast and Afghanistan. I have no idea why there is that extra half hour, but I intend to ask while I’m there! However, that means when it is 8am in South Carolina, it is 5:30pm in Kabul!
  • Kabul, where I will be, is the capitol. It is also the largest city in Afghanistan.
  • The official languages spoken in Afghanistan are Pashto and Dari. Other languages also spoken in the country are Uzbek, Turkmen, Balochi, Pashayi, and Nuristani. So obviously I’ll be working with translators, although a lot of the Afghans who work in the NGO industry, including our staff, have learned English.
  • The official currency of Afghanistan is Afghani. Makes it kinda easy to remember. Although I’ve been told in Kabul you can pay for pretty much everything with American dollars.
  • Afghanistan is a landlocked country sharing borders with Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and China.