Afghan Women Share Stories of Courage and Resilience
As a supporter of women’s empowerment, Counterpart convenes a group of women’s activists who come together to protect the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan. The situation is dire in the country whose regime has placed harsh restrictions on women, to the extent that human rights experts have categorized it as gender apartheid. As part of our 16 Days of Activism series, we share these stories to highlight various forms of gender-based violence, the courage and resilience of women there and to make clear what is at stake for the members of the women’s activist group.
Increasing Access to Menstrual Products: An Act of Hope and Resilience
In the heart of Kabul, Mariam Sharifi (not her real name) leads an organization that is changing the lives of thousands of women in Afghanistan. In 2017, she began producing, distributing, and raising awareness of reusable menstrual kits—in Kabul and in remote regions where women are most vulnerable. Her work has successfully changed mindsets, teaching community members that menstruation is a natural biological process, not a barrier to women’s activity or mobility.
Rising from the Ashes to Support Victims of Gender-Based Violence
Huma Muhammadi has dedicated her life to improving the lives of women in Afghanistan by promoting girls’ education, women’s inclusion in the workforce and in local leadership positions, and providing support for victims of gender-based violence.
Using Education to Break the Cycle of Gender-Based Violence
Nafisa Kakar decided to dedicate her career to serving and supporting victims of gender-based violence. She worked in safe houses as a mental health counselor, helping women heal and recover from the trauma of violence. Kakar has visited each district of eastern Afghanistan, connecting with victims and survivors. She has supported more than 6,000 women over the past 18 years.
The Bravery of Female Journalists in Afghanistan
Humira Saqib is the director of the Afghan Women’s News Agency, the only news agency in Afghanistan focused solely on women’s issues. Even with their rights being stripped away, women and girls work side by side to raise their voices and fight for the rights of women in Afghanistan. Saqib and her team tell their brave stories.
Giving Voice to Women Despite Hardships
Najiba Maram rose through the ranks in Afghan news media and founded her own radio company in near where she grew up, giving a space to woman in her community to raise their voices. She believes through her radio show that women who had been suppressed by the regime have found inspiration and she remains committed to her mission despite the dangers.
One Teacher’s Fight Against Educational Restrictions in Afghanistan
In August 2021, young girls and women across Afghanistan suddenly lost their right to a formal education, but that didn’t stop Masoumeh Bashandeh, a former mathematics and physics teacher, from providing Afghan girls with a safe place to learn. She created a home-based school for girls, keeping the hopes and dreams of Afghanistan’s youth alive.
From an Abusive Marriage to a Fearless Advocate
Farida Faqiri grew passionate about the need to support gender equity in Afghanistan, and began conducting trainings on gender, human rights, and women’s rights. This angered her husband, who then became physically abusive. After their separation, Faqiri founded her own organization to support Afghan women. Her story of resilience and her unyielding fight for women’s rights, even in the face of personal hardship, is an inspiration to all.