Free Women Writers works to improve the lives of Afghan women through advocacy, storytelling, and education.
Centuries ago, Rabia Balkhi was killed by her brother, a king, for falling in love with a slave, daring to write poetry, and dreaming of a different world. She is symbolic for the women of Afghanistan because she broke many misogynistic traditions by raising her voice and she shook the inhumane class system of her time by loving a slave. It is because she raised her voice then, that we can today. She exemplifies our fight for gender equality, social justice, and education. We titled our book Daughters of Rabia to honor this brave woman who was also the first known Persian poetess.
A collection of Afghan women’s writings in defense of our human rights, the book was published in 2013. Following its success and distribution in six provinces in Afghanistan, we created the Free Women Writers blog to continue publishing women’s writings in local languages. Since then, the blog has expanded to include hundreds of articles, poems, narratives, and essays about gender equality, environmental concerns, economic inequality, democracy, and other social justice-related issues. Read Daughters of Rabia here.
In 2016, We launched the Daughters of Rabia Scholarship to support a new Afghan woman’s higher education every year. We accept applications for new students every year in August. Free Women Writers, including our scholarship, is self-funded by our founder and members. We are proud to say that our work is funded and owned by ourselves, Afghan women. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Inspired by Rabia Balkhi, we aim to promote gender equality, social justice, and human rights using our voices. In Afghanistan, where daily terrorist attacks, poverty, and war have led to the sustenance of a culture of violence and inequality, we use our pens to fight terrorism and patriarchy. We are also aware of the fact that global media often misrepresents Afghanistan, in particular Afghan women. Afghanistan’s women are often talked about, but rarely listened to. We hope to challenge the one-dimensional portrayal of Afghanistan and Afghans at a global level by elevating authentic Afghan voices.
Do you want to learn more about our work? Read through our informational presentation.
MEET OUR TEAM
Aisha Azimi is pursuing her BA in Communications in Washington, DC. A member of Free Women Writers and Partnerships Director for the Love Your Natural Self foundation, Aisha is dedicated to helping girls gain the confidence and resources they need to reach their dreams.
Amina Azarm Nezami
Amina Azarm Nezami recently finished high school in Balkh. In the future, she hope to contribute to improving access to quality education in Afghanistan. Amina is passionate about women’s liberation through awareness and consciousness raising. In her spare time, she plays chess and football.
Frozan Sarwary is a student of law in Kabul, a member of Free Women Writers, and a mother of two beautiful girls. Frozan is passionate about fighting gender-based violence and building a safer world for her daughters.
Hadisa Osmani is a student of medicine in Balkh. She is passionate about women's health and wants to contribute to decreasing maternal mortality rates. Hadisa enjoys reading novels and writing and she is a member of Free Women Writers.
A member of Free Women Writers collective, Maryam Laly is passionate about human rights issues. She has a degree in Government with minors in Peace Studies and Arabic from St. Lawrence University. She hopes to contribute in building a better and safer Afghanistan through her writing and advocacy.
Marzia Nawrozi is a Free Women Writers member and fearless advocate for gender equality. When she is not making good trouble, Marzia pursues her MA in Women and Gender Studies at George Mason University.
Noorjahan Akbar is the founder of Free Women Writers. She loves reading and writing and like most Afghans, she is addicted to green tea.
Pary Shuaib is a Free Women Writers member with a relentless passion for gender equality. She has a BA in Communication from George Mason University and sometimes does yoga to soothe her soul.
Rawina Saberzada is finishing up high school in Balkh and hopes to become a dentist one day. When she is not studying or writing for Free Women Writers, she enjoys watching movies and riding her bike.
Roya Saberzada is pursuing her Bachelors in Political Science. She has been painting and writing for more than four years. She enjoys reading novels and studying philosophy. Her hope is to contribute to positive change in Afghanistan, even if it is in a small way.
Shabana Stanekzai has a degree in science from Kabul. She had always dreamed of studying literature, but war and instability prevented her from pursuing her passion in school. Today, in addition to being a member of Free Women Writers, she writes poetry and short stories and works at a non-profit in Afghanistan. Her source of happiness and energy is her adorable two-year old son and baby daughter.
A member of Free Women Writers, Zahra is a sophomore in high school and an aspiring writer and poet. Zahra cares deeply about girls’ education and empowerment. In her spare time, she helps her younger sisters, Sahar and Sana, with their studies.