Afghan Women’s Writing Project: How Oppressed Women Are Changing Their Lives Through Storytelling

Hamilton says that the number of women participating in the initiative has slowly increased over the last three years
Hamilton says that the number of women participating in the initiative has slowly increased over the last three years

Afghanistan continues to face enormous difficulties after decades of war and occupation. Despite the fact that the present administration purports to favor gender equality and women's rights, women's everyday lives have not changed significantly. Gender-based violence is rampant, the Taliban continues to impose authority, and almost 80% of women are unable to read or write as a result of the protracted conflict. Since 2009, the Afghan Women's Writing Project has assisted hundreds of Afghan women in writing essays and poetry, which they have then shared with the rest of the world. Thousands of readers are able to hear directly from Afghan women on topics of personal, cultural, and political importance thanks to their works.

The Afghan Women's Writing Project was created by Masha Hamilton, an American journalist, and author, 10 years after her first visit to Kabul. She was inspired by all the strong, intelligent Afghan women she met, who were ready to learn and express themselves, she claims.

"Telling your own narrative, telling it out loud, is essential for a certain type of survival. You perceive your narrative in new ways as you tell it, and you make adjustments that are suitable for you," Hamilton adds. "We don't instruct in English. They write in English to the best of their abilities. We clean it up. We work with them to improve their storytelling skills."


Hamilton says that the number of women participating in the initiative has slowly increased over the last three years

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Hamilton says that the number of women participating in the initiative has slowly increased over the last three years, as the ladies share their stories with their friends and family.

"Right present, we have around a hundred writers," adds the narrator "Susan Postlewaite, a journalist who edits their tales and poems, agrees. "We're expanding our team of authors. Our oldest writer is 45 years old, and our youngest is about 14."
These ladies frequently take huge risks in order to tell their experiences. While going through Taliban-controlled areas, some of them, according to Postlewaite, sneak computers under their burqas.

"They do write in secret to some extent. Their families may not necessarily be supportive of them expressing their opinions to the world," she says. "We had one writer who did write in secret. She had to walk four hours to get to an Internet [cafe], she was accompanied by a young male relative.", she added.

In the year 2013, AWWP had gone from online to a physical location in Kabul, the capital city, where women may meet, utilize the Internet, and be inspired by one another.

Zahra A., a young woman in her twenties, is looking forward to sharing her experience on the project's website. Zahra works as an English teacher in an orphanage and writes about Afghan girls' lives and hopes. Zahra's tutor, American author Naomi Benaron, describes her as "the daughter of uneducated farmers who place a great importance on education for their children in the face of the community and extended family criticism." "She portrays sadness on the paper, but she is endlessly optimistic."

Mahnaz, who joined the group three years ago, adds, "I feel like I'm not alone, and there's a need for change." She discusses how women become victims of cultural and religious ideas in her poem "Legitimizing Inequality." Mahnaz wants to keep writing and aspires to be a writer. She claims that the Afghan Women's Writing Project gave her and other authors a voice and empowered them to make a difference.(VOA/JC)

(This article is rehash from Voice Of America)

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