Rula Ghani looks set to challenge tradition

OSLO TIMES REPORT: Afghanistan’s new first lady Rula Ghani looks set to challenge the tradition of leaders’ wives staying out of the public eye.

In an interview with the BBC just days after moving into her new office in the presidential palace, Mrs Ghani said she hopes to encourage greater respect for women.

“I would like to give women out there the courage and the possibility to do something about improving their lives,” she said.

Mrs Ghani has already begun to break the mould.

During the election campaign of her husband, Ashraf Ghani – the eventual winner of the 2014 presidential race – Rula Ghani was the only candidate’s wife to appear in public.

(See more HERE )  And when the new leader paid an emotional tribute to his wife in his inauguration speech, it became a talking point for the whole country.

Mrs Ghani says it was a revealing gesture which summed up her vision of how attitudes to women could change.

“By mentioning me the way he did, my husband really showed exactly what I mean by helping Afghan women be more assertive, more conscious of their role, more respected.”

Mrs Ghani is clearly aware of the sensitivities in Afghanistan’s conservative society and says that her vision doesn’t contradict traditional values which are a keystone of Afghan life.

“I am not looking to change the existing social structure,” she said. “Having lived in the West, I have suffered from not having an extended family around me. And I think the fact that in Afghanistan the social fabric is still there, despite 25 years of civil war, I think it is a big plus.

– See more HERE.