How Afghanistan's First Lady Rula Ghani Is Advancing Women's Rights

Afghanistan's former president, Hamid Karzai, never appeared in public with his wife during his 10 years in office.

Since President Ashraf Ghani came to office two years ago, however, first lady, Rula Ghani, has repeatedly been seen breaking glass ceilings.

"I wanted to know what was happening, be in the midst of things," she said to BBC Chief International Correspondent Lyce Doucet at the Women in the World London Forum on Thursday. "After two weeks at home, reading books and watching TV, I was getting extremely bored."

Now, she uses her prominent platform for social and political reform, advocating for more women's rights in Afghanistan.

She aims to improve the rights of women by working as cooperatively as possible alongside the existing customs and traditions of the country, according to The New York Times. She feels that in the past, rebellious tactics within the Afghani feminist movement was more combated with aggression than support.

"A lot of initial activism by women was done with a lot of bitterness and aggression," she said. "You catch much more with honey than with vinegar."

Although she feels like this change can only happen gradually, Ghani is optimistic for the future.

"I feel the Afghan women are coming of age," she said. "There is now a good group of women who know what they want and how they want it."

Perhaps directly calling out the recently covered fatwa in Iran, banning women from biking in public, Ghani makes an appropriate analogy for her hopes for women in Afghanistan.

"It's time to take the training wheels off the bike and let them ride."

NEXT: Former Child Bride's Novel Is Becoming a Bestseller in Afghanistan »

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Photo credit: Getty images