The women portrayed in this booklet are contemporary witnesses. They are the women of Afghanistan, a country that has been defined by cycles of tyranny over the centuries. Women were the target throughout, and superimposed patriarchal expectations and values have shaped their lives to this day. For many women, however, this climate of repression has not led to wilful subordination; rather, it has fostered resistance in various forms.
Afghanistan, a distant land in the shadows of the Hindu Kush mountain range; a country with an impressive history and culture. Over the centuries, this culture has been destroyed time and again – both from within and from without. The road to building a new society is fraught with many hurdles: enduring patriarchal doctrines, corruption, a fear of change – and the list goes on. Modern images of gender equality and justice inspired both enthusiasm and fear in equal measure. Even so, the people have begun their gradual journey in the right direction. A window has been opened; a hopeful glimpse of the future.
Once again it is women who hold the family together, who have to rebuild the future against all odds, and who really want to do so. In this booklet you will meet some of these women. They have participated in our MotherSchools: Parenting for Peace program in Hesse, Germany. With terror and the suppression of women’s rights enduring as serious threats in both Afghanistan and Germany, the young generation needs role models who embody hope and outlook. The mantra ‘the personal is political’ rings truest wherever injustices are greatest. And extremist recruiters know this well.
With a courage fuelled by despair, these women have raised their voices and it is imperative that we hear them. That is their right and our obligation. On the pages of this booklet they speak to us and share their stories. They are the face of a country that has been defined by cycles of tyranny over the centuries. Women were the target throughout, and superimposed patriarchal expectations and values have shaped their lives to this day. For many women, however, this climate of repression has not led to wilful subordination; rather, it has fostered resistance in various forms. The women you are about to meet have come to understand that male dominance is not a safe refuge. Each of these women in their individual ways have stood up to a system stacked against them, a system based on and rooted in gender discrimination. Their stories of resilience are lessons to current and future generations. They all have risked everything to journey into a new life and beginning in Germany, where they hope to find freedom and peace, safety for their families, and respect for themselves. They are Afghanistan’s witnesses of history and the harbingers of a peaceful tomorrow. Twenty years ago, a Women’s Alliance took shape in support of the women of Afghanistan. These women have continued to fight. It is time to join them.