Daikundi Governor Shows Women Can Lead in Afghanistan

Daikundi Governor Masooma Muradi, during a visit to Nili Prison in Nili city, the capital of Daikundi province to assess conditions. © UNDP / Omer Sadaat / 2016

Daikundi, 16 April 2017 — Masooma Muradi is Afghanistan’s only female governor. In her two years as Governor of Daikundi, one of the poorest and most marginalized provinces in Afghanistan, she hasn’t had it easy. From the very beginning, she met a public backlash against her appointment as an Afghan woman to the top government position in their province.

“A woman governor will not be able to bring prosperity to our province,” Hazratullah, a male shopkeeper in the town of Nili, told a UNDP delegation visiting the province just last year. 

Likewise, community elders, religious leaders and locals, all men, publicly showed their discontent.

Governor Muradi, 37 years old and a mother of two, admits that it takes a lot of courage for a woman to lead a province where men dominate all walks of life. But she does have the support of many Daikundi people, and she is determined to hold on to the job to show people that women can take leadership roles as well as men. 

Over time, things have improved for her, as she has reached out to civil society activists and representatives of people, listened to their problems and engaged them in designing and implementing development projects. UNDP has been a close partner in helping Ms. Muradi to promote inclusive governance in the province.

“UNDP's Local Governance Afghanistan project built capacity and started development initiatives in Daikundi, with really practical outcomes,” said Ms. Muradi. “The office of the Governor now has better planning and management in place, and the municipality runs more efficiently.”

Police outside Nili Prison in Nili city, the capital of Daikundi province, during a visit of the governor to assess conditions. © UNDP / Omer Sadaat / 2016

The governor’s office is now capable of providing essential public services after its staff received trainings, provided by UNDP, in management and good governance. Ms. Muradi’s office now caters to people who need help and advice on how to use government services. 

Her relations with the public have also improved. She regularly visits hospitals, city markets and prisons and listens to the problems that Afghan people face every day. These meetings are slowly bringing people around to trusting her ability to change things for the better in Daikundi. Masooma Muradi’s success is not just vital for the people of Daikundi, but for Afghan women everywhere. 

In October 2015, UNDP launched a successor project to support and strengthen local governance in Afghanistan. The project builds capacity in provincial governors’ offices; improves municipalities’ revenue generation, accountability and service delivery; and assists civil society organizations to monitor local government. Sweden, European Union, Italy and Switzerland generously fund the Local Governance - Afghanistan (LoGo) project.

UNDP_AF_daikundi-governor3_022017Nili city, the capital of Daikundi province, where UNDP has supported the mayor’s office to deliver better services, including the provision of toilets, clean water and better road access to the central market. © UNDP / Rob Few / 2016

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