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2014 Fieldwork Reflection_Zahra Rostami

1) How has the fieldwork experience and what you heard (so the content of the interviews, this can include your thoughts as confidence, empowerment, and gender identity? Identify both positive and negative aspects you have been transcribing/translating them as well) in the interviews affected your sense of confidence, empowerment, and gender identity? Identity both positive and negative aspects.
Sense of confidence:
Before going to the field and taking the interviews, I knew this field work would be a big challenge for me. I knew I had a lack of ability to interact with people and convince them to be interviewed. However, when I asked my friends to introduce me some families, I had the whole time to start interacting with them and convincing them all alone without someone’s help. Thanks to my friends who helped me find families, without their help this field work would be a much bigger challenge.
            I have always had big difficulty. If I do not feel confident enough when I speak to someone, I cannot have eye contact with the person I talk to. I have always been trying a lot to keep my confidence at the highest possible level as I can in any official meetings, interview, and formal gathering, but it has been a big challenge. Nevertheless, I believe ford study itself and finding ways to ask questions from respondents depending on their educational backgrounds and personality gave me the most effective chance to build my confidence. I had to make the interviews for interviewees as interesting and worth spending time as possible so that they would not give up and I believe my confidence was part of this success.
            The Ford study field work was one of my biggest experiences to see the power in myself. Throughout the field work, I did not have a partner thus I had to move from places all alone. Most of my interviews were in the other part of the city, in ministries, radio stations, any places which were hours and hours away distanced from the west part of Kabul where my home is. Besides, west of Kabul is very secure in terms of any explosion yet mostly a lot of explosions take place in the east. Some of the very east distanced areas of Kabul I went in the summer to do the field work seemed very insecure to go. It was because the probability of any explosion to take place was very high at the same time, due to an overwhelming dominance of specific ethnic residents, it is sometimes hard for other ethnicities to go. Yet I did and I went all alone. During the field work, I even would not think how hard it would be for a girl belonging to a different ethnicity to go to that dominating Pashtun or Tajik areas. Now, that I think, that it had a lot to do with power inside me to make all of it happen.
Gender Identity:
            During and after conducting interviews from families, it came to me that their definition of women’s rights is all incorporated with Islam and has a big religious image with it. All they consider about women’s rights can be accepted inside Islamic frame. For instance, women’s part in heritage is an example which is not an equal demonstration of rights between men and women and is accepted so by everyone. But because it is said in Islam, they accept it as the fairest rule in Islam. All they think to be right for women should cross through Islamic lenses first. My gender identity at AUW is shaped not just by religious values yet international values. I think if I have to be part of Afghan culture again after my life at AUW, I have to accept the fact that I have to include lots of Islamic values in my identity. And I think of this because I am getting back to my culture which has mixed a lot with Islamic values.
2) What kind of challenges did you face as a woman in relation to participants, as well as with your male partners (where relevant)?  How did you manage these challenges?
            One of the challenges I had with my respondents was to convince them to make the long interview even for many sections. The second challenge was making the sample size as diverse as possible. We were supposed to make our sample size as diverse as possible in terms of family number, economy, ethnicity, primary respondent and etc but finding families were difficult. Even if we would find families it was not always possible that they would accept being interviewed. I tried my best to keep the diversity based on ethnicity as much as I could. For instance, I took interview from two Pashtun families one from a very poor background and the other with a very middle economic background but in terms of primary respondent, for instance, I could not make it diverse.
            From the beginning, I had a male partner but later he resigned because he could not make it anymore. In Kabul, with the help of my AUW Ford partners, I could find a girl to do my male partner’s task. She just joined me for two single interviews. And for the rest, she was always busy with her business. So I did the rest of interviews alone.
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