FARZANA WAHIDY Photojournalist “Sometimes the only way to get a true Afghan story is to have an Afghan woman take the photos.” Q: Why is photojournalism important in Afghanistan? A: Over 90% of Afghans are illiterate, so they can’t read to get information about their country and the world. I find photojournalism more useful because such a large percentage of my country’s population gets their news from looking at photos. Q: What is the importance of you being a female photojournalist? A: It is clear that a woman is very open with another woman. To capture a true Afghan story, a story about Afghan women, sometimes the only way to get the true story is to have an Afghan woman take the photos. Q: What does this do for your work, in other words, what would be the difference between your work on a story that involves women and that of an Afghan man? A: In some cases only women can cover the story like in prisons or hospitals. So if there are no female photojournalists, the story does not get told. Q: Do people in your life, family and friends, recognize that the job you are doing is an important one? A: Yes, my father always talks to me about my work that this is a chance to tell the true story of Afghanistan and that this is a big responsibility and that I should respect it. He tells me that I should do something, not just know about it, but do something about it. Q: You are a leader in what you are doing, heading down a path few Afghan women have. What do you say to women when they tell you they want to be a photojournalist? A: When I go to the provinces, some of the women say to me that they would like to be like me; literate, travel and see many places and to be working. I tell them to study and help their male family members understand how important that is to them. Q: You could be hurt doing this kind of work, why do you still do it? A: Some people say to me that if I die doing this work that it will be a shame for my family. If I die doing this, it’s not a shame for me because I have big responsibility with this job. If I die doing this work, I will be proud. Q: The lives of Afghan women are slowly changing. What do think of the future for Afghan women? A: I think Afghan women should not be sleeping now. There are reports everywhere that the rights for women are changing, but it is only happening in the big cities. But in the provinces, they are still not aware of the freedoms they have. Q: What needs to happen to improve this? A: There needs to be more classes for men and for women to teach them the rights of women. We need to change the minds of the men. If this happens, then women’s minds will change too.
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