Women’s Employment in Afghan Airline Industry Threatened By Lockdown

With the airline industry in Afghanistan taking heavy financial hits due to the COVID-19 pandemic, female flight attendants are fearful they will lose their jobs. Women are also on edge with the news of the possible resurgence of the Taliban in government forcing them out of the working world and losing their only form of independence.

Free of Taliban rule since 2001, Afghanistan and human rights advocates have been working to guarantee girls had access to education and women with access to job opportunities. 

Women and girls have made gains in the areas of education and work but as of 2017, two-thirds of girls do not attend school and in 2018, about 67% of women in the country were seeking work. The airline industry served as a great opportunity for women and now many female flight attendants have been furloughed, while others fly less frequently due to the pandemic.

Afghan airlines Ariana and Kam are seeking help from the government as they’ve lost millions of dollars in revenue and have been forced to furlough employees. Out of 580 employees at Ariana, about 30% are women. Kam airlines employ 106 women, with 48 of them working as flight attendants. 

The Realist Woman’s take:

Female flight attendants all over the world are experiencing job losses due to the global lockdown. But these jobs are a form of independence and escape for women in Afghanistan. While gains have been made in the workforce, women are still experiencing a high rate of unemployment. A job with the airlines gave women a chance to be financially independent and travel beyond the borders of the country, in a society that prefers women to take on traditional domestic roles. 

What a devastating moment for them. And there's the threat of the Taliban coming back into the government. They say they've changed and would allow women to work but who can trust anything they say when they've caused so much grief for women in the past? Time will tell what happens next but my heart goes out to the women of Afghanistan.

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