In a remote, conservative village in Afghanistan independent Razia Jan sets up the first ever girls’ school. It gives the girls the opportunity to learn to read and write, and provides a safe environment in which they can dream of a better future. However, traditions, conservative family members and the threat of the Taliban cast a shadow over their future prospects.
Women’s rights in Afghanistan are a scarce commodity. While certain freedoms have been restored since US soldiers expelled the Taliban in 2001, women are still subjected to strict conventions and traditions, especially in remote rural areas.
Brave, seventy-year-old Razia Jan was lucky enough to grow up in a less conservative part of the country and even went abroad to study. She remembers better times in her homeland and dreams of transmitting a better Afghanistan to the next generations of women. She decides to found the Zabuli school in a remote village, the first school that provides education to girls.
For one year, the camera zooms in on the courageous people who give life to the school: the pupils, the teachers and the founder herself. Apart from being a place where the girls can learn to read and write, the school offers them an environment in which they can dream of a better future. However, the Taliban threat, which seems to be gaining momentum as international peacekeeping forces withdraw, casts a shadow over their future prospects.
Razia Jan was born in Afghanistan and moved to the United States in 1970. Humanitarian work is in her blood, and she has received many awards. In 2012, she was one of the ten CNN Top 10 Heroes. Razia Jan will be present at the Movies that Matter Festival as one of the A Matter of ACT activists. Read more about her here.
Text: Annika Wubbolt