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Women of Afghanistan: Introduction - Sahar Speaks Printer friendly page Print This
By Amie Ferris-Rotman, Sahar Speaks
Huffington Post
Monday, Jun 27, 2016

Editor's Commentary:
What follows is an introduction by Amie Ferris-Rotman to 10 remarkable women. These are women who live in one of the most inhospitable places on the planet ... especially if you happen to be a woman.

Amie's introduction speaks for itself, and Axis of Logic will begin publishing the stories of these women - written by these women - of their lives in a land where humanity is hard to find. The first episode will run tomorrow, June 28, with the rest of the stories following on consecutive days.

These are extraordinary individuals and deserve our attention. They are telling stories that we rarely hear, and sadly miss.

Axis of Logic offers of tip of the hat to Huffington Post for putting this all together

-prh, ed.

The women of Afghanistan have been the focus of intense interest and notoriety for decades. Under the Taliban they were seen as oppressed creatures swathed head to toe in burqa blue, publicly stoned to death and forced to live in an unspeakably cruel world where they were not to be educated, make noise or even be seen. When a U.S.-led coalition invaded the country at the beginning of the last decade, first lady Laura Bush portrayed the mission as one that would save Afghan women. The global fascination with their plight has created a smorgasbord of sympathy-driven initiatives and activity: billions of dollars and thousands of hours have been spent on female empowerment programs; Afghan women have appeared as heroines in novels and the subject of countless books; magazine covers have featured their tortured faces; and they have been nominated for Nobel Peace Prizes.

But in this grand web of good intention and striking failures – Afghanistan is still considered one of the worst places on earth to be a woman – something was missing. Afghan women often make front-page stories in the world’s press, but those stories are written in someone else’s voice, be it an Afghan man, a foreign man or a foreign woman like myself. When working for Reuters as their senior correspondent in Kabul between 2011 and 2013, I became increasingly appalled by the lack of Afghan female journalists in the mainstream media. There was no shortage of them – Afghan women made up a fifth of the local media scene – but none reported for an international audience. Not a single one.

As a journalist, the hypocrisy of the situation exasperated me. But good things, I have learned, come out of anger. Fast-forward three years to the program I created, Sahar Speaks. This past spring, for the inaugural round, we trained 12 Afghan female journalists to report globally. With guidance and support from a network of experienced mentors, these women have produced news packages for The Huffington Post. This is the first time Afghan female correspondents have been consistently published in a global media outlet. They have reported on subjects that only Afghan women can unlock and have access to. One reporter was able to interview a woman who is living in captivity, imprisoned by her husband; another explored the dark shadow surrounding girls in puberty. There’s a first-hand account of growing up in Afghanistan disguised as a boy, and one woman’s comparison of the war-torn Kabul she lives in today and the free-spirited Kabul her mother experienced in the 1970s.

In these stories, no one is speaking for these women but themselves.

I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I’ve loved working with these brilliant and enthusiastic young journalists, women so hungry to tell the world how they really live.

Amie Ferris-Rotman
Founder of Sahar Speaks

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