Visionaries: Overcoming Barriers to Bring Food Safety Education to Afghanistan

Visionaries: Overcoming Barriers to Bring Food Safety Education to Afghanistan

I have a research and extension appointment, so part of what I do is
teach food safety throughout Indiana, working with the growers here, to make
sure they’re producing fresh fruits and vegetables that are safe. But we also do
an international component as well. So, one of the projects we’ve worked on is
to work in Afghanistan where we teach food safety and develop a new food
technology department. So, I think one of the biggest barriers we’ve had (especially working in a country like Afghanistan) is one: there’s not a lot of education. There are, I mean, they have educational programs, but the standards are much different than we have here. So, a college degree is almost like a middle-school degree here. And also, there’re many women who just don’t get an education. So, it’s starting to get somewhat better, but it’s very difficult for women to go to
college in Afghanistan, or even up to a high school degree. So, I think
that probably has been one of the biggest barriers we’ve had: to
promote education in Afghanistan, especially to the women. So, being a woman is definitely a barrier just because men are not used to talking with women and respecting women. And so, if you go in as — you know, you’re the leader, you’re the one that has to have the authority when you’re doing a training when you’re teaching students — and often, they don’t want to listen to you. And so really, you have to work hard to establish the fact that you’re the one doing the training, that you’re the expert in the field. And sometimes that’s difficult, but we managed to get over that. I think also being a woman, you have to dress very differently. So, I had basically a whole set of clothes that were just my
Afghanistan clothes. And so, you cover your head, you know, we dressed as the women dress. And somewhat for security, but also out of respect.

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