An Afghan woman’s journey from the sidelines to the frontlines: meet this community mobilizer

Zahra Mosaiby knew it was time for her to change her limiting beliefs when she heard the term “Community Mobilizer.”

A Project of
Tolerance Caravan

For a long time, Zahra Mosaiby thought that change was beyond her. Change, was in the hands of the government, or men, but certainly not an Afghan female journalist. But all of that changed she says, when she came across the term, “community mobilizer” in an EAI workshop in Herat.

In the Tolerance Caravan Human Rights workshop, Mosaiby learned that she could start to solve problems that were affecting her community. These did not have to be big problems. They could be anything that she felt strongly about. And so starting by something small, she decided she wanted to clean up the canals in her village in Herat that were reeking with refuse, posing health risks for infants and children.

Noting that municipality rules were not being respected, she knew that it would require speaking to the village elder. But keenly aware of her own cultural conditioning as a woman, Mosaiby knew it would not be acceptable to speak to men directly and so she asked her younger brother to arrange for a meeting with the village elder. It was at this meeting that she made her mark.

“At first, the village elder was reluctant to take action but when I said that as a journalist I would have to report on these problems, he was more willing to talk.” Soon after, her message was transmitted by the village elder in the mosque and in the streets, and a cleanup of the canals was organized. “One hundred families took part and now,” Mosaiby says proudly, “they do this once every month.”

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