Rula Ghani, wife of newly elected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, was in Oslo over the weekend to speak at a conference organized by Norwegian authorities to further the rights of women in the war-torn country. She made a plea for educated Afghan women to return from studies abroad to help their struggling “sisters.”
Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende, who hosted the conference, admitted that women still have a long way to go to win respect and avoid violence in Afghanistan. He was recently in Kabul, however, and claimed that the Ghanis are strongly committed to improving the situation for women and girls.
Rula Ghani is clearly taking a more offensive line and becoming more visible and engaged than her predecessor. Educated in France and the US herself, she has also been hired as a special government adviser on issues regarding women, children and minorities in Afghanistan.
“We, the female leaders of Afghanistan, are responsible for our sisters’ fate,” Ghani said on Sunday. She acknowledged that it’s dangerous being a feminist in Afghanistan, but urged women who have received stipends for study abroad to return when their studies are complete. “They made a decision when they accepted the stipend, and with that comes increased responsibility,” Ghani told news bureau NTB.
She also met with Prime Minister Erna Solberg and other Norwegian and international delegates attending the conference. Norway has been an active donor of military and humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.