In May 2009, journalist Marsha Hamilton founded the Afghan Women’s Writing Project to empower Afghan women to tell their own stories and amplify their voices.
The website is now an archive of stories, essays, and poems from 150 women — all identified only by their first names; in some cases, they remain anonymous. Their works are written in English so that they’re accessible to people all over the world. As the FAQ explains, ‘Many learned English while living in refugee camps, so this is not the language of the privileged in Afghanistan.’
This poem appears as the epigraph in Jenny Nordberg’s reportage The Underground Girls of Kabul, recommended in the Afghanistan episode of our podcast. The four simple words ‘not an Afghan woman’ are a plea and a protest and — most of all — an assertion of self-worth.
Its author Roya was born in Kabul and remained in Afghanistan during the Taliban period. Her goal was to eventually gain a master’s degree and to be a poet. She published many poems on the site along with photos of Kabul.
But not an Afghan woman.
But I am an Afghan woman.
with the weight of pains.
Top image courtesy of kursat-bayhan/Shutterstock.
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