The Afghan Women’s Writing Project was conceived by Masha Hamilton after her last trip to Afghanistan in 2008. She became concerned that we were losing the voices of Afghan women and came up with the Project as a way to have access to their hopes, fears and dreams not filtered through men or the media. All of the women write at least partially in secret and often go through a lot to gain access to a computer.
The Afghan women work with women writers from the U.S., who teach and encourage them in online workshops. Women writers are used because of cultural inhibitions about working with men. Submissions are edited in a back-and-forth process for grammar and clarity, but remain the works of the original authors. All the work done on behalf of the Project is done pro-bono.
Here is a particularly poignant excerpt from one of the pieces:
“Afghan women have wings for flying. Afghan women want to be free like other birds that fly into the blue sky. But ancient cultures and old thoughts have clipped their wings and, like birds alone in cages, they remain looking out, waiting to fly to the highest point in the sky.
“Afghan women quickly become old, their wishes carried with them to the grave. Still, their children remain, becoming brave women and men. Afghan women want their children to complete their wishes. Then the souls of Afghan women are happy.”
In addition to letting the voices of Afghan women be heard and instilling a sense of pride in them, the hope is that readers will gain a broader and deeper understanding of what life is like in Afghanistan for all its inhabitants.
Please take the time to leave a comment for the writers. They work in such isolation and under such difficult conditions that any feedback or commentary helps them know they are being heard and is greatly appreciated.
Donations are also welcomed for the purchasing of laptops and thumb drives for each of the Afghan women writers. They can then write in private where they will not attract undue attention and a sympathetic male can take the thumb drive to an Internet cafe and email their writings.
Here is a Fox news story about readings of these women’s writings done by professional actresses at the Museum of Tolerance.