“Dear Zari”: Women in Afghanistan

Women’s Parliamentary Radio

April 27th 2011

For immediate release

http://www.wpradio.co.uk talks to Author and journalist Zarghuna Kargar: “Dear Zari – Hidden Stories from Women of Afghanistan”

Afghan Women’s Hour journalist Zarghuna Kargar has just published her new book “Dear Zari”. Based on 13 real life stories of women in Afghanistan today, including her own, she tells how these heart-breaking and empowering stories are transforming women’s lives, simply through their “telling”.

Zarghuna was part of the first team of journalists to report for Afghan Women’s Hour which in two years became the second most popular programme on the Radio. The telling of stories and the sharing of experiences through radio has transformed the lives of many women and their families.

Zarghuna, who now lives in London, tells our Executive Producer, Boni Sones OBE, how every time she wrote or read lines in the book tears came to her eyes.

“I hope my book is read with care because there are so many hurt feelings involved in these emotions, hurt feelings of me and women in the book.” Boni spoke to Zarghuna at the Cambridge Wordfest event as they sat by the river bank.

Published by Chatto & Windus in early May 2011: Amazon: Hardback £11.29 or £8.31 Paperback. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dear-Zari-Stories-Women-Afghanistan/dp/0701184698.

Zarghuna told Boni:

• “Emotionally it was very hard, just listening to those women and hearing about their experiences was very touching for me as an Afghanistan woman. Meeting women as a woman journalist in Afghanistan, is not so hard, because I would just go to neighbours in Kabul, and people living around me and working with me. I talked to women who had suffered in attacks of war, or women achievers in Afghanistan.”

• “All of these stories I tell have affected me in a very personal way. One woman married a gay man, and was struggling to get a life without a husband. This convenience marriage to a gay man, was a very difficult life and she wanted to get divorced, but because she was not educated she found it very difficult. Divorce is a very big taboo in Afghanistan, and I went through a divorce too. It really touched me emotionally because I made those decisions in my own life which is against my traditions and against my society.”

• “I found these women were brave. Sometimes I couldn’t imagine that people would go through so much and have such resilience and yet be able to think about positive things for their children and grandchildren. There is a story of a kite maker, a widow, the war left many widows, and some of them are forced to beg on the streets, But after her husband died in a car crash, she decided to make kites with her children in the house and sell them. In the kite running season she is getting money and helping her children to get an education by buying paper, and pens and books for them.”

• “I believe the media has great affect, especially the BBC, because it is one of the most trusted organisations in Afghanistan. The Afghan women’s hour was a lifeline for those women, it was the first time many of them had spoken in front of a microphone and their voice went on air.”

• “The Afghanistan woman’s hour became the second most listened to programme in just two years. Grandmothers used to tell their grandsons: “Can you tell Zarghuna Kargar that we like those programmes, we feel that you are telling stories about our life”. These women were role models for a lot of other women in Afghanistan, for instance, the carpet weaving women who gave opium to their babies so that they could work the long hours required. These small experiences women shared brought great change in their life and in my life.”

• “I remember speaking to two mothers who sons had died in the wars, their experiences were exactly the same even though they were fighting for different sides. Their feelings of loss were greater than what they were fighting for – the affects of it were the same for the two mothers, even though their sons fought each other and for different reasons.”

• “Now we have a Parliament with women members, millions of girls are going to schools, women are working as teachers and doctors and for me it is a positive change, women can earn a living. Years ago a women couldn’t come out of the home without a man, so there is a positive change now, and if the laws that have been enacted are implemented it will bring change. “

• “Please don’t forget women in policy making. Women’s freedoms and rights are the most important part of democracy. They shouldn’t be forgotten. For years Afghan women lost education and it has left a great impact. Whenever I went to try to recruit reporters for the programme it was so difficult to find educated women.”

• “Every time I wrote the stories I cried mostly, it touched my feelings, sometimes I was scared about what the would say about the things I was writing, every time I wrote, it was a difficult time emotionally for me. I hope my book is read with care because there are so many hurt feelings involved in these emotions, hurt feelings of me and women in the book.”

1. Wpradio.co.uk is a web based broadcaster supported by all parties. Latest web stats show in March 2011 for the previous 6 months we are consistently getting over 2500 visits per month. Downloads have ranged between 25GB and 36GB per month.
2. We don’t share our content with others in order to inflate our stats, you have to visit our website to listen to our content. We have over 500,000 hits in a year.
3. Our web stats show that our visitors are loyal, they return, tune in for some time and to more than one item and they enjoy our documentary making too. In March 2011 there were 1,250 downloads of individual podcasts, with our top ten downloads published on our site.
4. The top four downloads show our cross-party appeal to our listeners: 1. Hazel Blears Interview 203 2. Sally Keeble How the budget is helping grandparents 171 3. Theresa May Interview 159 4. Anne Begg Parliamentary Education Service Question Time 123. 5 Anne Begg – Parliamentary reform and MPs expenses. The ERS documentary on women MPs had 99 downloads.

5. wpradio also carries international content and has interviews with women MEPs in Europe, and women politicians in Africa and the Middle East.

6. Our supporters include Theresa May MP, Jo Swinson MP, Harriet Harman MP,and many other female politicians listed on our site. Jackie Ashley, of the Guardian, is our Chair.

7. The British Library archives all the interviews on wpradio.co.uk in its new web collection.

8. For more information contact Boni Sones OBE on 07703 716961.


One Response

  1. Great!, I would love to read this book and I will read it with care.

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