Women in Afghanistan tend to be depicted as enigmatic objects that defy human comprehension. Media sensationalism and selective reporting bear some of the blame. But thanks to projects like an Afghanistan-based Community Supported Film workshop that trained men and women on how to tell the stories on film, Afghan women are now also using media to represent themselves.
The project, named The Fruit of Our Labor produced ten short films that feature different aspects of Afghans’ daily lives. Four of those documentaries were shot and directed by Afghan women. They include Bearing the Weight, by Mona Haidari, which tells the story of a woman who has lost her husband, newborn daughter, and her leg in a rocket attack. In the film, we live with Shafiqa through her daily agonies as she gets fitted with an artificial leg, as well as through her successes of teaching young women the art of sewing.
The second film, The Road Above by Aqueela Rezailt, talks about drug addiction, and how it has affected thousands of families in Afghanistan. Mona is a young woman who lives with her aging mother after leaving her husband, who is addicted to heroin. Mona works in street construction, which is usually a male-dominated job, with her burqa (veil) on.
The third film, Hands of Health, by Zahra Sadat, tells the story of a maternity clinic built for women, but lacks both medical staff and equipment. Many women, like Farida, struggle with having to trek to Kabul for medical advice and treatment. The last film, Treasure Trove, by Fakhria Ibrahimi, takes viewers to a bakery to tell the story of women’s lives in Afghanistan.