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Photo Essay

This Afghan Life

The everyday life of an Afghan woman, in pictures.

By Leslie Knott 9 Apr 2007 | TheTyee.ca

Leslie Knott worked for two years in the Faryab province in northern Afghanistan setting up a radio station for women. For the past ten years she has worked as a journalist and photographer in Vancouver and other far flung locales. She currently lives in London, England.

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Rona and Hassan in Maimana, Afghanistan. Photo by Leslie Knott.

After decades of civil war, Afghanistan has become synonymous with military, Taliban, terror and the abysmal treatment of women. But it was not always so.

Thirty years ago, the Afghan government was recruiting women to drive buses, fly planes and work as scientists. For a brief window in history, women, especially in Kabul, were encouraged to participate in the economic future of their country.

But while women have suffered in the "dark time" of the last thirty years, they have still made many quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) contributions to their country. From secret schools to beauty salons, Afghan women have persevered.

Today, while fighting continues in many regions, and the government takes its first shaky steps toward true democracy, the people of Afghanistan continue to live their daily lives. Bread is baked, school is attended, weddings are celebrated and babies are born.

This photo essay showcases the daily life of Rona Sherzai, one of the Afghan women I worked with for two years in Maimana, in northern Afghanistan. Rona is the station manager for a new women's radio station, Radio Quyaash.

The future outlook for the women I worked with is realistic, but still hopeful. As Bilquis Samadi, a female Afghan journalist said, "I would love to ride a bike, ride a motorcycle or ride a horse, but these are all dreams that will come with me to paradise."

The photos are part of a presentation, Afghanistan: Images of War and Culture, being held Wednesday, April 11, at 7:30pm at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver (1100 Chestnut Street), a benefit held by Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan. The presentation will feature frontline photos of Canadian troops in combat and behind-the-scenes images of an imperiled people. Tickets are $15 at the door and all money raised will go directly to education projects and salaries of schoolteachers in Afghanistan.  [Tyee]

Read more: Photo Essays

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