The windows are darkly painted to make sure those women inside are not exposed to people passing by. Women must wear special shoes to prevent themselves from making any noise. They are beaten by mob if not wearing “proper” clothes. Women cannot go to work or to public places without accompanying male relatives.
This is the life as a woman in Afghanistan, where Zahra Rasouli(Political Science & International Relations, 4) came from. Later, she had to flee from their country when the United States carried out the Afghanistan war in 2001. Rasouli and her family went to Iran, where she spent half of her childhood years.
“After graduating from the high school in Iran, I moved back to my home country and worked in the Afghan Ministry of Women’s Affairs. Working there, I realized thoroughly about the tragic reality that Afghan women are facing, and made up my mind to work for women’s rights,” said Rasouli.
The chance to study at Ewha came when she was working for the ministry. Her co-worker recommended the scholarship from Ewha, and she thought this would probably be a once in a life chance which she should not let go.
“I cannot forget the moment I arrived at the Incheon airport. People from the Office of Global Affairs at Ewha greeted me so friendly. While heading to Ewha in a car, I was shocked by the sky scrapers and women, who were liberally moving around,” recalled Rasouli with a smile.
For her, Ewha was a perfect place to fulfill her dream as she could experience the freedom she never had before. Also, the school was well-known for the women’s studies curriculum.
“I can go to a theater wearing a T-shirt and short pant without worrying about mob violence, and, in this competent women’s university, I could improve my cognition about women rights by taking women’s studies courses,” she said.
Despite many cultural differences, she adapted herself well with her optimistic characteristics.
“I am a Muslim, but I do not have any aversion participating in chapel, because I am interested in other religions as well. I actually enjoy the grave atmosphere and various performances in chapel.” But Rasouli confesses that the language barrier was a tough problem even if she takes a cheerful view of life.
“During my freshmen year at Ewha, I could not understand Korean at all. If it were not for the great help of all the professors and my personal advisors, I might have failed all my classes,” said Rasouli.
Not only does she participate in school classes enthusiastically she is also very active in her social life. “I have many Korean friends and I love to spend time with them in cafés, chatting.” She also participated in the Global Internship Program this summer, which was hosted by the Seoul Metropolitan. Her main role was to connect foreign students participating in ‘Seoul International Student Forum’. The forum was opened in June 26, under the purpose of reflecting foreign students’ opinions in policies of Seoul Metropolis. She announced the dates and places for the meeting to hundreds of participants through community in “Face Book”.
“The friendship we established through this forum is still maintained through internet. It was a great opportunity to communicate with diverse foreign students,” said Rasouli.
When she goes back to her homeland, she dreams of becoming a forerunner in strengthening women’s rights in Afghanistan. “The situation Afghanistan women are facing is similar to the situation of the women who lived in Chosun Dynasty,” But Rasouli says she looks at the matters in an optimistic view as there are many positive changes made in Afghanistan recently.
“Due to the constant pressures from the international society, the Afghan government changed its laws which oppressed women before. As a result, there are two women candidates running for the presidential election in Afghanistan,” said Rasouli. “I do not expect a revolutionary change. But the certain fact is, there will be the change, and we just need time.”