March 9, 2016

Tabibzada’s Stairway to Success

Written by USWDP Program, FHI 360

Young woman in hijab receiving diploma

When Ms. Manizha Tabibzada, an analyst in the audit department of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA), first laid eyes on a Master of Public Policy and Administration (MPPA) flyer in early 2012, little did she know how an MPPA degree would change her professional life and career. Tabibzada had just joined MoWA and aspired to be a leader at the ministry. She admitted that she “thought this was another nontransparent program, which was marred with favoritism, and individuals like me would have no chance”. However, MPPA proved contrary to her expectations. After she submitted her documents, went through a written content test and interview, her phone rang with the news that she had been selected in the first MPPA program at the Kabul University for the 2012 term.

Tabibzada was one of the ten female students to join the MPPA program, which is a joint effort of USWDP and the Kabul University. Apart from a transparent selection process, both USWDP and the Kabul University ensured that Afghan women occupied 50 percent of the seats offered for the MPPA degree. Therefore, the first cohort of MPPA hosted twenty students out of which ten were male and the remaining ten were female students. “When I got selected among over 400 applicants, my worries were rested and I knew that MPPA was a merit-based program” quipped Tabibzada.

While studying MPPA, Tabibzada learned some of the key management skills, such as devising policy, budgeting, controlling and a host of other useful subjects. “I must say that the program was well-designed and the lectures were useful”. Upon completing her degree in March 2014, Tabibzada found out that the important position of general manager in the budget department of MoWA had been announced. With a post graduate degree in her hand, Tabibzada confidently applied for the position and got it. Now, she is an even more important staff member of MoWA. She is part of the team that develops not only the ministry but also its 34 provincial departments’ budget, and defends it before the budget hearing committee at the Ministry of Finance.

Programs such as MPPA open a window of opportunity for those Afghan women that have the doors shut on them due to social restrictions on women traveling abroad by themselves and studying. Tabibzada was one such woman. “I could not study abroad due to familial restrictions imposed on traveling abroad. A Kabul-based master’s degree was the only way I could earn a postgraduate degree” admitted Tabibzada. Does she want to pursue her academic ambitions further? “Yes” exclaims Tabibzada with a smile, “I would love to get my Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in public policy and administration and I hope USWDP offers it in the future.”