Starting work on the PROCESSIONS project has reminded me of the amazing women I've had the privilege to work with in the past, and none more so than the women I met in Afghanistan when making the short documentary 'A Difficult Birth'. Looking back over a blog I kept during my time there, I found an excerpt that spoke directly about women's emancipation, so I thought the time was just right to share it here:
So I’m coming to the end of my trip to Kabul. It’s been the biggest experience of my life aside from having my kids. It’s really made me aware of the present moment and what is going on around me - probably the most alive I’ve ever been.
I’ve met the most wonderful, courageous people here and have been especially impressed by the many and varied brave Mums who I have met. I feel that these women are well on their way in terms of securing their emancipation although obviously there is a long struggle ahead and much work to be done.
Afghan women are becoming more and more aware of their human rights and as a result there has been a recent outcry after one man cut off his wife’s nose. Most of the women in Kabul used her picture as their Facebook profile for several days in solidarity.
I had the great honour of securing a meeting yesterday with the famous Nancy Dupree - an American woman who has made Afghanistan her home for the last 50 years and who has seen it all - the Taliban, the Mujahedin and the more recent NATO invasion. She says that Afghan women are gaining in force and in fact that she believes women are gathering in strength more and more all over the world. With a twinkle in her eye she joked with us that she has told her male colleagues to watch out because the women are coming! She told us that she believes that even if the Taliban were to come back into power that public opinion would not allow them to close schooling to girls because there has been a fundamental attitudinal change amongst women.
Just like I would in any breach of human rights, I believe it is important to stand by these women and support them in their strength and courage for the fight ahead of them. Nelson Mandela has rather poignantly died whilst I’ve been in Kabul and it reminded me how the whole world stood against apartheid. No-one bought any South African wine or grapes for years. I remember wearing ANC badges when I was a teenager. But we didn’t drop bombs on South Africa in order to get our way. We just stood in solidarity for what we knew was right.