I studied for two years in China and did my Master's on Social Work in Women's leadership and Social Development at China Women's University in Beijing.
On our first day of campus, I met my Chinese buddy, she had a great positive impact during my stay in China, she was very kind and supportive of me. Wherever I went, she accompanied me and tried to make the language barrier less and made my stay in China more memorable.
There were many interesting events that happened during my alumni period in China but one moment that i wont forget, happened on the 30t of May in 2019. I got the opportunity to meet with China's first lady at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. And let me tell you this, she was nothing like I had expected a first-lady to be. She was down to earth and would chat with us. She even sang along with us during our performance that we had prepared for that great day. She was genuinely passionate about women's empowerment and involvement in society. And this was something I realized being in China, that the level of gender discrimination is astonishingly low.
On the national and societal levels, many efforts are taken to boost women's involvement and empower them to participate in society. And you could see and feel the results of all the steps taken to empower Chinese women. I was so inspired and motivated by the eagerness and the hard work they did to give women a more important role in society.
- If you compare your experience in China with Afghanistan how different is it?
"Unfortunately, in Afghanistan, the cultural barriers and mindset barriers that exist in our society and within our families restrict women from obtaining essential independence. I mean, women are barely allowed to go outside without permission from a male family member. Even if they do, it is always a huge risk for women being out of her home, such as risks in getting kidnapped, sexually harassed catcalled, and even publicly shamed by conservatives for being outside."
I believe it is essential to show countries like China who put so much effort into involving women and promoting gender equality and equity.
"There is a need for a mental revolution to change Afghans' mindset, a need to improve our norms and culture that restrict women's development".
I have studied women's leadership and social development, which means we learn about the proper means of gender equality and equity. During my education i learned that "Everyone has got gender equality wrong. "
It is not about accomplishing the same equality for men and women. It evaluates the proper supplements and needs for the female and male and proves it to them. As men and women have different given requirements, it is about considering the differences between them. Only then can we accomplish full success equality.
• What types of qualities do you think are essential in a female leader?
First of all, let us not be blindfolded for the differences between men and women. We have to consider and accept that men and women have different qualities, which are all useful. If we have a leader who is a woman, it does not mean the leadership will be lacking. The focus should be on the context, as what kind of leadership do we need right now? What significant development are we seeking?
"As female leaders tend to be more cooperative and use more emotions in their leadership. But the differences between the sexes are not that significant. A woman can also be a demanding leader, but having feelings is a significant positive aspect in females' leadership that is not often found in male leadership."
• What were the most exciting things you discovered in Chinese culture?
First, I was a bit anxious about the food. Like any tourist, I was looking forward to visiting the monuments and the historical sites, such as the Great Wall of China, the forbidden city, and several Hutongs - traditional courtyard residences in different parts of Beijing.
As China is making massive progress in its technologies, I was so blown away by how they had successfully perceived their nature with technology's help. Instead of letting the technology take over the city, they have found a way of using technology by sensing the nature for their citizens to enjoy. The government teaches and shows the citizens that they are responsible for the next generation and work for a better and greener China.
As an international student with a Muslim background, and I am only saying this from my personal experience, I had a positive experience. I felt welcomed and respected, as well as safe. I was not expecting that people with other faiths than Islam would still be so respectful towards Muslims. I didn't feel this kind of respect from born religious people, so I was so surprised.
• Would you recommend more Afghan women to study abroad?
Yes, of course, I would recommend and encourage more afghan women to take a chance to study overseas. We, as women, need to convince ourselves to take responsibility for our own lives. You plan to do something, and you go with it, do not let society or regressive mindsets to stop you.