• In their own words: Afghan women in the UK

In their own words: Afghan women in the UK

26 March 2013

This month saw the launch of the first-ever oral history project to record the experiences of Afghan women settling in the UK over the past 40 years.

The ambitious project, which includes an exhibition, film and booklet aims to combat the often negative stereotypes of Afghan women in the British media.

Over a three year period, more than 50 volunteers from the British Afghan Women’s Society interviewed Afghan women of all ages and from different walks of life about their experiences.

The result is the DAWN project (Documenting Afghan Women’s Narratives). The women’s moving testimonies, along with personal photos, tell stories of loss, new beginnings and their enduring hope for Afghanistan’s future.

Some of these women fled their homeland as early as the 1970s, 1980s or 1990s to escape political instability or fighting.  Others arrived much later.

They include a surgeon, a human rights researcher and a BBC journalist.  Some of them had jobs to come to in the UK;  others arrived as refugees and have successfully forged new lives here. 

The British Afghan Women’s Society says that compared to Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran, Afghans in the UK are relatively successful economically, with many working as professionals or owning small businesses

Many of these women came from a middle or upper class background in Afghanistan and lost a lot in terms of status and material goods when they left.  They talk about their former lives in their homeland, what forced them to leave and what drives them to help Afghan and other refugee communities in the UK.

 The exhibition Documenting Afghan Women’s Narratives will be shown at a variety of venues across the UK over the next year.