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Meet our field staff: Meena

Afghanistan, March 18, 2013

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More than 95 percent of our worldwide team members are from the countries where they work, and as you might suspect, they’re amazing people. So every month, we’re inviting one of the many folks who make incredible change possible to give us a peek into their work and life.

Meet Meena Haidari, who joined our Afghanistan team six years ago. Her commitment to empowering fellow Afghan women is truly inspiring.

My position with Mercy Corps: Currently I am the HR/Staff Development Coordinator, a Chairperson of the Senior Administrative Committee and a member of Senior Management Committee, a founding member of Mercy Corps Afghanistan’s Gender Working Group and I manage our young women’s internship program.

Why I love what I do: In these past six years I have taken every opportunity to learn the inner-workings of this organization; from administration and logistics to programs and human resources. I have begun to build networks with national and international colleagues, and people from other organizations here in Afghanistan. I want to further my understanding of the needs of professional Afghan women within the humanitarian aid and development sectors and support my family and my country. I try to surround myself with talented people who I can learn from and who can challenge me. I really love what I do.

One of my favorite projects: Last year I initiated a research project to analyze the challenges and problems faced by female employees in the NGO field in Afghanistan. Through this project I met women who have the confidence to share their experiences and knowledge. This was very empowering for me because, especially in Afghanistan, it’s unique for women to share their views openly.

My motivation: For the last 30 years of war in Afghanistan our people have suffered a lot. When I am looking at the disabled, vulnerable and impoverished it really motivates me to do something for my people and my nation.

One of the most important things I have learned is self confidence that comes from encouragement from my family. The other is to give value and respect to everyone; male, female, rich, and poor. This is what I am implementing at home, workplace, and in my community.

I plan to be a prominent Afghan woman who is known for working for the inclusive, positive and peaceful development of my country.

Life in Afghanistan: Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, everyone enjoys the freedom to move outside of their homes, specifically women in Afghanistan. Women got access to education and employment but still we struggle for a more equal society. The biggest challenge is lack of access to education, lack of job opportunities and equal rights for women. I love the culture and people of my country.

It’s not what you think: The biggest misconception is about women in Afghanistan. It is about their burka, illiteracy, being prohibited from work. Women are the most important part of Afghan history. Now women are an important part of the workforce. I am an example.

Security here is not as bad as they say. You can travel night and day in the country. The local mafia is using it as a tool to benefit. Corruption is not to the level which is said in the media. It is introduced by limited people who are part of the government to benefit from. Afghanistan will do OK after the troops pull out. It will need an army and international donors to help with economic projects.

Hopes for my country: No more war. I am sure the younger generation here in Afghanistan will change this country because of the way they think. I want to see my country develop and see everyone (male and female) given an equal opportunity and freedom to live. I want to expand my leadership skills in creating environments that encourage collaboration and participation of women and men. I would also like to develop my entrepreneurial skills so that I can work more effectively with other Afghan women and men on economic and social empowerment to further human rights in Afghanistan.

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