An Afghan woman's life expectancy is just 44 years, and her life cycle often begins and ends in disappointment: being born a girl and finally, having a daughter of her own. For some, disguising themselves as boys is the only way to get ahead. Nordberg follows women such as Azita Rafaat, a parliamentarian who once lived as a Bacha Posh, the mother of seven-year-old Mehran, who she is raising as a Bacha Posh as well, but for different reasons than in the past. There's Zahra, a teenage student living as a boy who is about to display signs of womanhood as she enters puberty. And Skukria, a hospital nurse who remained in a bacha posh disguise until she was 20, and who now has three children of her own. Exploring the historical and religious roots of this tradition, The Underground Girls of Kabul is a fascinating and moving narrative that speaks to the roots of gender.
the underground girls of kabul
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An investigative journalist uncovers a hidden Afghan custom that will change your understanding of what it means to grow up as a girl. Expanding on her widely read New York Times article "Afghan Boys Are Prized, So Girls Live the Part," in which she uncovered the phenomenon of bacha posh (literally "dressed up like a boy" in Dari), the practice of disguising and raising young girls as boys, Jenny Nordberg constructs a powerful and moving account of the long-standing tradition that has enabled many girls to counter the challenges they face in a deeply segregated society where they have almost no rights. Through extensive in-depth reporting and first-person interviews, Nordberg offers a fascinating, almost fairy-tale-like look at how girls can be willed into looking, behaving, and acting as boys, why mothers would ask that of their daughters, and what ultimately happens when some girls do not want to rescind the prerogatives that go along with living as boys, and later as men. Divided into four parts, following strong characters through childhood, puberty, married life, and childbirth, The Underground Girls of Kabul charts the entire life cycle of Afghan women and gets to the heart of how bacha posh has profoundly affected generations, not only in the greater historical and political context of Afghanistan but also what it means to women everywhere now.
A heartfelt celebration and exploration of the tomboy phenomenon and the future of girlhood, based on the author's viral New York Times op-ed. We are in the middle of a cultural revolution, where the spectrum of gender and sexual identities is seemingly unlimited. So when author and journalist Lisa Selin Davis's six-year-old daughter first called herself a "tomboy," Davis was hesitant. Her child favored sweatpants and T-shirts over anything pink or princess-themed, just like the sporty, skinned-kneed girls Davis had played with as a kid. But "tomboy" seemed like an outdated word--why use a word with "boy" in it for such girls at all? So was it outdated? In an era where some are throwing elaborate gender reveal parties and others are embracing they/them pronouns, Davis set out to answer that question, and to find out where tomboys fit into our changing understandings of gender. In Tomboy, Davis explores the evolution of tomboyism from a Victorian ideal to a twenty-first century fashion statement, honoring the girls and women--and those who identify otherwise--who stomp all over archaic gender norms. She highlights the forces that have shifted what we think of as masculine and feminine, delving into everything from clothing to psychology, history to neuroscience, and the connection between tomboyism, gender identity, and sexuality. Above all else, Davis's comprehensive deep-dive inspires us to better appreciate those who defy traditional gender boundaries, and the incredible people they become. Whether you're a grown-up tomboy or raising a gender-rebel of your own, Tomboy is the perfect companion for navigating our cultural shift. It is a celebration of both diversity and those who dare to be different, ultimately revealing how gender nonconformity is a gift.
Hillary Rodham Clinton was the first Secretary of State to declare the subjugation of women worldwide a serious threat to U.S. national security. Known as the Hillary Doctrine, her stance was the impetus behind the 2010 Quadrennial Diplomatic and Development Review of U.S. foreign policy, formally committing America to the proposition that the empowerment of women is a stabilizing force for domestic and international peace. Blending history, fieldwork, theory, and policy analysis while incorporating perspectives from officials and activists on the front lines of implementation, this book is the first to thoroughly investigate the Hillary Doctrine in principle and practice. Does the insecurity of women make nations less secure? How has the doctrine changed the foreign policy of the United States and altered its relationship with other countries such as China and Saudi Arabia? With studies focusing on Guatemala, Afghanistan, and Yemen, this invaluable policy text closes the gap between rhetoric and reality, confronting head-on what the future of fighting such an entrenched enemy entails. The research reports directly on the work being done by U.S. government agencies, including the Office of Global Women's Issues, established by Clinton during her tenure at the State Department, and explores the complexity and pitfalls of attempting to improve the lives of women while safeguarding the national interest.
Suraya Sadeed grew up in a peaceful Afghanistan. Following the Soviet invasion in 1979, she left America with her family, building a new life. But after a sudden tragedy, Suraya returned to Afghanistan for a visit that changed everything. Shocked by the suffering and destruction wreaked on her homeland, Suraya was determined to help. Smuggling herself across borders in various disguises, braving warlords and drug-runners, she set up an underground girls' schools in Kabul in order to bring hope and aid to thousands of Afghans. Since then, Suraya has worked tirelessly, trying to raise funds.
"Chronicles the lives of young and old, daughters and mothers, educated, and those who are still learning. These determined women are defying the odds to lead Afghanistan to a better future. Their stories are a stark reminder that in some corners of the world the struggle continues and that women's progress in society, business, and politics cannot be taken for granted"--Dust jacket flap.
Malalai Joya has been called "the bravest woman in Afghanistan." At a constitutional assembly in Kabul in 2003, she stood up and denounced her country's powerful NATO-backed warlords. She was twenty-five years old. Two years later, she became the youngest person elected to Afghanistan's new Parliament. In 2007, she was suspended from Parliament for her persistent criticism of the warlords and drug barons and their cronies. She has survived four assassination attempts to date, is accompanied at all times by armed guards, and sleeps only in safe houses. Often compared to democratic leaders such as Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi, this extraordinary young woman was raised in the refugee camps of Iran and Pakistan. Inspired in part by her father's activism, Malalai became a teacher in secret girls' schools, holding classes in a series of basements. She hid her books under her burqa so the Taliban couldn't find them. She also helped establish a free medical clinic and orphanage in her impoverished home province of Farah. The endless wars of Afghanistan have created a generation of children without parents. Like so many others who have lost people they care about, Malalai lost one of her orphans when the girl's family members sold her into marriage. While many have talked about the serious plight of women in Afghanistan, Malalai Joya takes us inside the country and shows us the desperate dayto-day situations these remarkable people face at every turn. She recounts some of the many acts of rebellion that are helping to change the country -- the women who bravely take to the streets in peaceful protest against their oppression; the men who step forward and claim "I am her mahram," so the fundamentalists won't punish a woman for walking alone; and the families that give their basements as classrooms for female students. A controversial political figure in one of the most dangerous places on earth, Malalai Joya is a hero for our times, a young woman who refused to be silent, a young woman committed to making a difference in the world, no matter the cost.
Few westerners will ever be able to understand Muslim or Afghan society unless they are part of a Muslim family. Twenty years old and in love, Phyllis Chesler, a Jewish-American girl from Brooklyn, embarked on an adventure that has lasted for more than a half-century. In 1961, when she arrived in Kabul with her Afghan bridegroom, authorities took away her American passport. Chesler was now the property of her husband's family and had no rights of citizenship. Back in Afghanistan, her husband, a wealthy, westernized foreign college student with dreams of reforming his country, reverted to traditional and tribal customs. Chesler found herself unexpectedly trapped in a posh polygamous family, with no chance of escape. She fought against her seclusion and lack of freedom, her Afghan family's attempts to convert her from Judaism to Islam, and her husband's wish to permanently tie her to the country through childbirth. Drawing upon her personal diaries, Chesler recounts her ordeal, the nature of gender apartheid—and her longing to explore this beautiful, ancient, and exotic country and culture. Chesler nearly died there but she managed to get out, returned to her studies in America, and became an author and an ardent activist for women's rights throughout the world. An American Bride in Kabul is the story of how a naïve American girl learned to see the world through eastern as well as western eyes and came to appreciate Enlightenment values. This dramatic tale re-creates a time gone by, a place that is no more, and shares the way in which Chesler turned adversity into a passion for world-wide social, educational, and political reform.
A sharp and arresting people's-eye view of real life in Afghanistan after the Taliban Soon after the bombing of Kabul ceased, award-winning journalist and women's rights activist Ann Jones set out for the shattered city, determined to bring help where her country had brought destruction. Here is her trenchant report from inside a city struggling to rise from the ruins. Working among the multitude of impoverished war widows, retraining Kabul's long-silenced English teachers, and investigating the city's prison for women, Jones enters a large community of female outcasts: runaway child brides, pariah prostitutes, cast-off wives, victims of rape. In the streets and markets, she hears the Afghan view of the supposed benefits brought by the fall of the Taliban, and learns that regarding women as less than human is the norm, not the aberration of one conspicuously repressive regime. Jones confronts the ways in which Afghan education, culture, and politics have repeatedly been hijacked—by Communists, Islamic fundamentalists, and the Western free marketeers—always with disastrous results. And she reveals, through small events, the big disjunctions: between U.S promises and performance, between the new "democracy" and the still-entrenched warlords, between what's boasted of and what is. At once angry, profound, and starkly beautiful, Kabul in Winter brings alive the people and day-to-day life of a place whose future depends so much upon our own.