Photo by Rahmat Gul
Like for so many women around the world, International Women’s Day is not solely a celebration of our achievements but rather a catalyst to continue the push for gender equity and elevate exposure of our struggles and demands.
Shamsia Hassani is one such woman.
As the first female graffiti artist in Afghanistan, Hassani regularly risks her life to publicly reconstruct cultural expectations and envision freedoms for women through art.
Her murals, plastered on homes and buildings in Kabul, illustrate both the country’s social oppression and what she envisions for female empowerment. Amid war torn streets, she restricts herself to small walls in order work quickly and avoid explosions. She depicts women as strong, educated and independent while often wearing the traditional burqa and hijab. Subtly, by combining women’s rights with tradition, she has begun to subvert gender norms in Afghanistan and change Western assumptions on freedom.
On international Women’s Day, Hassani’s efforts point to the crucial need to ask of ourselves and each other-- to use your language, whether it be vocal, visual or written, to continue the fight for gender equity, representation of women in marginalized communities and protect our political, economic, reproductive and social freedoms.
Propelled by the teaching and inspiration of Hassani, independent artists commemorated International Women’s Day with a mural on a barrier wall of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in Kabul.
We stand with the women of Afghanistan and celebrate the women in our lives, by recommitting ourselves to staying loud and actively fighting for equity at our jobs, in our schools and in our homes. - Maureen Post