Atefa Mansoori, chairperson of the Jaame-e-Nowin Development Institute in Herat, is believed to be the first woman to get a driving licence in the province.
Officials at the Herat Provincial Traffic Directorate say dozens of women have succeeded in getting driving licences this year.
Aminullah Maihan Yar, chief of the directorate, told Killid: “We have distributed driving licenses to 27 women. They graduated from training courses conducted by the Herat provincial traffic administration.” Meanwhile, another 60 women drivers are all set to complete their training in driving in the next few weeks, he adds.
Are women drivers safer than men? Yar reels off statistics from other parts of the world to prove that women are less prone to create accidents than men. He thinks there will come a day when Afghan women will show this is true also in this country.
Driving is considered a male prerogative. Most Afghan men, who like to pride themselves on keeping their women at home, are unused to seeing women drivers, says Mansoori. She says that she has been harassed on the road by male drivers and others, but she has learnt to ignore them.
Not giving up
Curiously many of the women who are learning driving at the classes held by the Herat Provincial Traffic Administration say they are not sure if their families would let them drive on the city’s streets.
The directorate has appealed to people to shed their prejudices about women drivers, and let the city’s women be mobile.
Tahera Popal, a member of Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, says it is a woman’s right to drive. “Men and women in a community have equal rights and no one is allowed to stop women driving.”
She also believes women should fight for the rights they have been given.
The Herat Provincial Traffic Directorate says it would like more women to drive. “Women like men are allowed to drive and this office has no problem with it and paves the way for women by offering the necessary facilities.”
According to officials, more than 100 women have been given driving licences in the province. After Kabul, Herat has the most number of female drivers in Afghanistan.
The Killed Group: Women on the move