Promoting as sense of ownership is important for such a prominent neighborhood institution, and raises the status women’s education within the community. A series of initiatives, meant to encourage community involvement, were implemented throughout the design and construction phases of the Gohar Khatoon project.
- Student participation: Providing the young women and girls who attend the school an opportunity to shape their environment is a means of empowerment. In a design visioning session, the students were asked to consider what they would like their future school to look like, and to draw what they imagined. In their drawings, the students describe a school that connects them with their surroundings and with each other: sitting in classrooms with open windows, playing volleyball, and gardening.
- Staff involvement: The school principal and Ministry of Education officials toured the school construction site on a regular basis and provided feedback on a number of design issue. Some critical elements, such as the floor patterns and wall murals, were also vetted by local religious authorities.
- Artist participation: A competition inviting local artists to submit a mural design for the central stairwells was held last year, and six finalists were selected to install their work over several weeks. Art in Afghanistan was initially produced almost entirely by men, but more recently, women have also been encouraged to pursue artistic interests. The mural competition provided some of these emerging artists an opportunity to share their work and inspire the students of Gohar Khatoon.