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Return of the Silent Years?

Friday, April 26, 2013 by Marianne Elliott

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Suraya Pakzad - Afghan women's rights advocate

Suraya Pakzad – Afghan women’s rights advocate

Sometimes people ask me if I still do human rights work. And I’m not always sure how to answer. I no longer have a job, with a salary, that comes with a title like ‘Human Rights Officer’. But I do still do human rights work. At the moment I’m helping put together an exhibition on feminism in New Zealand – reviewing and remembering the milestones for women’s rights over the past 150 years, and looking at where we are now, and where we are going.

This week I also finished up the last in the series of radio stories I’ve produced out of the material I gathered during my trip to Afghanistan this time last year (see the bottom of this post for links to the posts I wrote while I was on that trip).

I’m especially proud of this story – which is called ‘Return of the Silent Years?’ and looks at the concerns of Afghan woman and human rights advocates about the impact in Afghanistan of the withdrawal of international troops. I’m proud of it partly because it presents a different perspective on this story. In New Zealand, the story of our troops decade-long engagement in Afghanistan has been often presented either as a success (we’ve helped stabilise and rebuild the province, and how we are leaving it in good hands) or a failure (we’ve wasted money and lives, achieved nothing and it’s time to get out).

In my experience the situation is considerably more complex than either of those stories would suggest and it seemed to me that the best way to get the message of that complexity across was to let Afghan women, and men who are working to promote the rights of women, tell the story in their own words.

Listen to ‘Return of the Silent Years?’

Links to the other radio stories I produced from this trip:

Visiting the Buddhas – a story about potential for tourism in Afghanistan

Tractors in Afghanistan – a story about agricultural development programs in Bamiyan province

First Love: Gaza – a story about the impact of humanitarian work on aid workers

Links to the posts I wrote while I was there:

Revisiting Afghanistan: Day One – in which Afghan kindness wins the day

Revisiting Afghanistan: Day Three – in which I reveal what’s really scaring me

Coming Home to Herat – in which I relearn the importance of ‘feeling it’

Revisiting Ghor: Day Two – in which I meet some ghosts and yet another Kuchi Dog

Revisiting Ghor: Day Three – which is all about security, security, security

Birthday Thoughts – in which I celebrate my 40th birthday in Afghanistan

Turning 40 in Pictures – which is exactly what it sounds like (lots of photos)

What Afghanistan Taught Me: Part I – in which I apparently say everything I had to say, there is no Part II





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One Response to "Return of the Silent Years?"

  1. […] There are so many things I could be writing about. About Afghanistan, mostly, and how terrifying, and depressing, it is to contemplate these ‘peace talks’ between the Afghan government and the Taliban and what they might mean for women. If you want to know more about that, you might like to listen to this radio story I did on the subject. […]

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