Women are a growing force in the Afghan workplace. To advance the role of women in society, the U.S. Government supports women entering into the science and engineering fields. Female engineers in Afghanistan are strong pioneers who have broken through gender stereotypes to contribute to their countryâs development.
Fatima Kohstani is an engineer with USAIDâs Afghanistan Infrastructure Rehabilitation Program (AIRP). With a masterâs degree in roads engineering from Kabul Polytechnic University, she has helped to design urban, rural, and provincial roads.
âThis is a male dominated profession,â said her supervisor. âTo find an Afghan woman who is an engineer with a masterâs degree in engineering is a real credit to her.â
Fatima liked math and science as a student and her father and uncle, both engineers, encouraged her. Now a mother herself with children following her example, she is quick to stress the teamwork aspect of engineering. A good road, she says, results from the expertise of many engineers â from surveyors to geometric designers.
Mrs. Kohstaniâs specialty is hydraulic engineering. She gauges water flows and run-offs to properly design road structures like curbs, medians, culverts, and bridges. Feeding data from topographical studies and survey teams into advanced software programs, she creates maps and models that show where concrete structures are needed.
Her current area of responsibility is the Bamyan-Dushi Road, a 164-kilometer route that will provide a year-round alternative to the treacherous Salang Pass. She estimates that the route will need 860 culverts to maintain water flow and prevent flooding.
As an Afghan, Mrs. Kohstani brings a special commitment to the rebuilding of her country. âWhen I am on the Bamyan-Dushi Road,â she said, âI know that I built that road, that I was part of it. When I see vehicles and people using the road, I feel very good.â Her motivation, she says, is simple: âI work for my people.â
June 10, 2014