Her Excellency the First Lady of Afghanistan Rula Ghani was in Washington DC this week to speak at the Devex World Forum to discuss her work to elevate the voices of Afghan people and grassroots development initiatives in Afghanistan, and to share her advice with international development practitioners about working in Afghanistan.
She spoke about the role of Citizen’s Charter National Priority Program in empowering rural Afghans to play a leadership role in their community’s development. Mrs. Ghani added that the Citizen’s Charter empowers citizens to play a decision-making role in identifying and prioritizing their communities’ development needs. She spoke about the role of the media in influencing the way people see Afghanistan, often not covering any positive developments happening in the country.
Mrs. Ghani commented that international non-governmental organizations (INGO) need to be aware of the changes happening on ground and understand how they are being perceived by Afghans. She stated her appreciation for continuing assistance, but encouraged INGOs to “make sure that whatever you are doing, you have asked Afghans what they want, do they have an opinion, do they have some other idea. Talk to them so you can really help, not as a donor and a beneficiary, but as equal partners.”
HE Rula Ghani also spoke about her open-door policy, which has allowed her to meet with multiple groups of Afghans including many women’s groups. She mentioned that Afghan women have had a difficult time, but that’s what makes them strong, resourceful and resilient. When asked what can improve, Mrs. Ghani stated: “Women don’t need workshops and certificates. They need real, hard skills”.
View a video of Mrs. Ghani’s Devex talk in its entirety at this link.
Mrs. Ghani also met with diplomats, staff and their families at an Iftar dinner hosted in her honor at the Embassy by Ambassador Mohib on June 11. Mrs. Ghani greeted the diplomats and their family members, made brief remarks, and took some questions.