The dark times are coming back.
Ever since she was a young women refugee living in a camp in Pakistan, Farida Nekzad’s mission has been the improvement of the life of Afghan girls and women. From improvised classrooms and handwritten teaching materials to UN financed schools and vocational training centers, Farida’s humanitarian impact on the plight of Afghan refugees cannot be over-estimated.
Since than only her “clients” have changed. Today the freelancing social worker turned journalist runs the country’s only protection center for Afghan women journalists (PCAWJ). Farida and her team teach young female reporters in the arts of the trade. And she provides for security lessons to her colleagues.
The latter has become of the utmost urgency. 20 years after the al Qaeda attacks of 9-11 the last contingents of the international forces will have left Afghanistan by August 30, 2021. The Afghan government presided over by Ashraf Ghani as well as the Afghan security forces are coming under increased pressure. The Taliban have regained control over 30 to 50 per cent of the country’s territory. From freedom of speech, the independence of the media to women’s rights: whatever achievements were made with the help of the international community – it’s all under threat by the radical Islamists.
Even though she has been personally targeted in the past, PCAWJ director Farida Nekzad is determined to hold the line. Her biggest concern is her little daughter who she would like to see growing up in peace and serenity: “She is such a gifted and hungry to learn kid.” For herself leaving Afghanistan is not an option. “I cannot leave my younger and unexperienced colleagues behind.”
Some years ago, Farida accepted an invitation by the Hamburger Stiftung für politisch Verfolgte (Hamburg Foundation for Politically Persecuted People). During her 12 months stay not only did she knit a large and international network of friends and supporters. The Afghan journalist also won several important awards for her unrelenting courage and her strife for better working and security conditions of Afghan women journalists.
For the future of her home country Farida has very little hope: “The dark times we thought to have left behind us are coming back”, she said during the recording session of this podcast.