The Afghan Women’s Writing Project began as an idea during novelist Masha Hamilton’s last trip to Afghanistan in November 2008. Her interest in Afghanistan was sparked in the late 1990s during the Taliban period, when she understood it was one of the worst places in the world to be a woman. Masha first visited the country in 2004, and was awed and inspired by the resolute courage of the women she met. When she returned, she saw doors were closing and life was again becoming more difficult, especially for women. She began to fear we could lose access to the voices of Afghan women if we didn’t act soon. The Afghan Women’s Writing Project is aimed at allowing Afghan women to have a direct voice in the world, not filtered through male relatives or members of the media. Many of these Afghan women have to make extreme efforts to gain computer access in order to submit their writings, in English, to the project.
The project reaches out to talented and generous women author/teachers here in the United States and engages them, on a volunteer, rotating basis, to teach Afghan women online from Afghanistan. (We are using women teachers solely due to cultural sensitivities in Afghanistan.) Through this ongoing interaction, we hope to encourage the women to develop their voices and share their stories. Portions of the work will be put on a blog on a regular basis. Due to security concerns, we will use the Afghan women writers’ first names only, editing out all names of family and friends and removing locators. Nevertheless, the existence of the blog in the world is a key part of the project for several reasons. First, it is intended to instill a sense of pride for these women. Secondly, it is also intended to educate us, the teachers and readers of the blog, about what the Afghan women’s childhoods and young adulthoods were like under the Taliban, and what they feel about current conditions in their country. The blog is also meant to be a record of the project itself. Finally, it is intended to provide a positive link between Afghans and Americans at a time when those relationships have to some degree soured.
– From “About” on the Afghan Women’s Writing Project
Access the project by clicking here.