On the day she received the email from the programme inviting her an interview, she couldn’t control her tears of joy. But she still had to do an interview and written test, and then wait four months for a criminal record check. Finally, she was given the all clear - she was going to Iceland to study!
“After I had gone through all these procedures, I was ready to leave, and my relatives still questioned me: ‘Does your father know?’ ‘Are you allowed to go to a foreign country alone?” That was disappointing to me.
Among the highlights during the master’s programme was meeting the President of Iceland and giving a presentation on women in political, social and economic activities.
“I had an amazing experience. I didn’t expect to be able to talk about my visions, and experience to the president of a country where I was just a student.”
Suhaila met females from European and Middle-Eastern countries in this programme, which made her hopeful for the future, saying: “Afghanistan is not standing alone on gender issues. That gave me hope that I still can bring a positive change in gender equality.”
Now that she has completed her degree, Suhaila can apply for her dream job, which is teaching gender studies at Kabul University. Her message to parents in Afghanistan is: if you want your country to be peaceful and successful, let your sons and daughters get equal access to education and other opportunities.
This work is part of UNDP’s Enhancing Gender Equality and Mainstreaming in Afghanistan (EGEMA) project and is supported by the Republic of Korea. The project focuses on improving policies, boosting economic empowerment and ensuring access to justice and human rights.