Since its inception in the 1940s, the Afghan Scouts has always had boys and girls, men and women participating. PARSA’s Afghan Scout program has been no different, even in much more conservative times and communities. Our troops are gender-specific but in workshops, events and ceremonies we honor girls and boys together. This week we had our first female-only workshop for Women Scout Masters from five provinces.
When I checked in with Tamim Hamkar, deputy director and leader of the volunteer Afghanistan National Scout Organization (ANSO) on how it was going, he said: “We have learned so much about how to work with our female Scout Masters. In the past they were in coed Scout Master Training workshops and there is definitely an important lesson for all in those workshops. But the women are usually in the minority in the workshop and they stand back and are quiet. In this workshop I learned that they are active in their communities, competent, passionate about their work with children AND they really do need a different and separate training to support their growth in this social environment today. They need both. I am very proud of their work.”
Later in the day, Safi Khairandish, Kabul Program Coordinator stopped me as I was walking up a path by the Training Center and he showed me their campsite that they built during the day. “After 41 years, Female Afghan Scout Masters will finally be able to experience overnight camping outdoors. And they will be safe. They will never forget this the rest of their lives and they are making history.”
PARSA’s senior Scout staff is male with one young woman, Rabina, who has been a Scout with us for 10 years and is now managing the girls Afghan Scout program. I was so proud of the Scout Masters but I was touched and inspired by the male PARSA Scout staff and how they pushed themselves to make the workshop memorable, how compassionate they were with the Scout Masters and how badly they want them to succeed. There are few stories here of Afghan men who are dedicated to a humane and equal opportunity for Afghan women and who understand that in a society that supports women, peace and stability are possible. But PARSA made such a story this week.
– Marnie Gustavson, PARSA Executive Director
Days 4 & 5
This post was originally published on PARSA Afghanistan.