Saleha Nik Khah

Local government neglects us: say women with disability in Herat

Unemployed Afghan women complain about government discrimination in Herat.

Finding a job for the 22-year-old Saleha Nik Khah is the crux of the matter. Ever since 2018—the year she graduated from university—Saleha has applied numerous times to earn a job but in vain. Saleha Nik Khah is a woman with disability. She has studied law and political science and holds a bachelor degree.

Perhaps her disability is the only excuse when it comes to finding job. In whole western Herat province, not a single woman with disability has secured a job in government institutions even though as per employment law of the country, at least three percent of government job should be occupied by people with disability.

Reports suggest that at least 10,000 people with disability live in the province, coping with financial hardships.

Amina Shahryari, a 30-year-old woman with disability, is a four year student at a private university in Herat. Every day, she sits on her wheelchair and struggles to keep up with her daily works. Feeling uncertain about her future, Shahryari says that the local government is systematically ‘neglecting women with disability’.  

Wahida Azizi, head of gender department in Herat local government

“Many women with disability attend school, graduate from university, learn foreign language, develop communication and computer skills, but despite tireless efforts, they are discriminated and they fail to secure job,” she said.  

Wahida Azizi, head of gender department in Herat local government, pours out her heartache over failure to hire women with disability.

“Many women with disability have developed skills and there are many vacant posts in local government but they still cannot land a job.”

Wahida Azizi said.

Aziz calls on the local government to make every possible effort to hire women with disability in the province. She says the absence of skilled women with disability in local government is disappointing and unjust.   

However, Abdul Qaum Afghan, head of provincial directorate of labor and social affairs in Herat province, rejects any sort of discrimination being placed against women with disability in local government. He claims high unemployment rate coupled with abundant job seeking have made the competition tougher for people with disability.

Every year, nearly 4,000 students graduate from Herat University and the government institutions do not have capacity to hire all of them, Mr. Afghan said.  

Nafas Gul Usman, another woman with disability, has filled hundreds of job applications but to no avail. She holds a master degree in law and political science. “The government only talk about empowering people with disability,” said Usman.

They say people with disability have quota, but in reality, we receive zero support.”

Nafas Gul Usman noted.