KABUL (1) – Shagufa Haidari, 23, a flight attendant for Afghanistan’s Kam Air, used to fly six days every week across the nation and overseas, to Istanbul, Islamabad and Delhi.

Shagufa Haidari, 23, Kam Air flight attendant speaks throughout an interview in Kabul, Afghanistan Might 2, 2020. Image taken Might 2, 2020. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

Then the novel coronavirus hit. Now she barely flies, most of her colleagues have been furloughed and aviation officers warn that they could be out of jobs altogether as they ponder the dire situation of business collapse.

Airlines are struggling globally, however the loss of Afghanistan’s aviation sector would have additional collateral injury, destroying one of the few vibrant spots for feminine employment at a time when the conservative society can be going through the chance of a return of the Taliban to a job in authorities.

Haidari, who landed her dream job at the age of 20, says it’s a life-changing alternative for formidable younger girls.

“It’s a job full of pleasure and a world of journey,” she mentioned.

Issues have improved for ladies in Afghanistan for the reason that Taliban, who banned feminine schooling and girls from leaving dwelling and not using a male family member, had been in pushed from energy in 2001, notably in city areas.

A brand new technology of girls has emerged with college levels and jobs in a variety of fields together with enterprise and politics.

However nonetheless, the speed of girl’s employment is a fraction that of males, with solely a few fifth of girls within the labour market and an unemployment price of 67% for ladies looking for work, in accordance with 2018 Gallup information.

Afghan girls selecting a profession say they face hostility, be it from conservative family members or Islamists, for pursuing knowledgeable path and monetary independence.

Many fear the scenario will solely worsen if the Taliban achieve a political function in a power-sharing deal as america withdraws its troops underneath a pact with the militants.

The Taliban say they’ve modified and they’d enable girls to work exterior the house, so long as they’re separated from males. However many ladies are cautious.


Airlines have welcomed girls in numerous roles. About 30% of the 580 workers at nationwide provider Ariana are feminine whereas Kam Air employs 106 girls, 46 of them flight attendants, in addition to pilots and managers.

“Kam Air has at all times tried to have extra feminine workers,” mentioned Suliman Omar, its business officer.

“Our criterion is the schooling and expertise of our workers, not gender.”

However with most flights grounded as a result of of the coronavirus, Kam Air has requested 80% of its employees to remain dwelling with out pay because it suffers the loss of $6.5 million in income each week.

“We’re going through the very critical risk of collapse,” Omar mentioned.

Ariana posted a loss of $4.three million within the first quarter, in contrast with $14 million in income in the identical interval final yr.

The airlines have joined forces with the Civil Aviation Authority to attraction to the federal government for assist.

Mohammad Hedayat, a press adviser to Second Vice President Sarwar Danish, who has been closely concerned within the response to the coronavirus, mentioned the presidency had acquired the request.

“However no resolution has but been made within the cupboard,” Hedayat mentioned.

The taxes the airlines pay are a significant supply of income for a rustic closely reliant on falling flows of overseas assist.

And the expansion of the home air community has offered a lifeline for a lot of Afghans who would in any other case don’t have any alternative however arduous and harmful journey by highway.

“By automotive you’re dicing with dying,” mentioned businessman Shakib Yarzada, 35, who makes 4 enterprise journeys a month by air, referring to militant violence.

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Flight attendants can solely wait and hope.

“For somebody like me with expertise solely in aviation there’s no different likelihood of employment,” mentioned Ariana flight attendant Ellaha Nawabi, 25.

“It’s the most effective job alternative for ladies.”

Reporting by Orooj Hakimi; extra reporting by Storay Karimi and Charlotte Greenfield; Writing by Charlotte Greenfield; Enhancing by Robert Birsel