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Noorjahan Akbar: The story of education in my family begins with my paternal grandmother, Bibi Jan, whom I did not know very well. She died when I was five, before the Taliban took control and my family left Afghanistan for Pakistan... After six years of refuge, we returned to Kabul in the winter of 2001. The city still smelled of bullets and bombs.

30 women protest in Kabul

UN Dispatch interview with Noorjahan Akbar

..Here in Afghanistan, people believe a woman belongs to her house or her grave. People say that; it’s a common saying.

Harassment is a threat to women’s participation everywhere in the country and if want more women participating in public life, we need more voices of support....

Young Afghan Women  - EPA/Al-Jazeera

It is as if they think all the women who work outside are prostitutes

It is the same story every day. I am old enough to be their mother, but they still feel entitled to comment on my body, insult me, and stop their cars to ask me to go with them.

Photo by Noorjahan Akbar

In the summer of 2009, I was given a grant to conduct field research to gather and record traditional Afghan music

After a week of researching women's folkloric music in various parts of Takhar, my aunt, who thought I was overworked, decided to take me out to see the countryside...


By Marnie Summerfield Smith: "Jamilla told me she was hoping there would be a new battle in Afghanistan – the battle of the pen..."


I swallowed my words and, with broken heart and hate for myself, walked away... I am wearing “the right length” of dress, I am wearing my scarf “the right way”, I have lowered my gaze... In fact I realized I don’t exist anymore; I am hiding every part of me that makes me woman. I checked “the check list of being good girl” and I have not broken any rules of being good...


1 out of 11 women in Afghanistan die in pregnancy or in child birth. Over 80% of Afghan women are illiterate and only 6% aged older than 25 have had an education...


"Rhina hasn’t felt this safe for years... It’s been a year since she ran away from a forced marriage to an older man she says treated her like a slave..