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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Website of the Week: The Afghan Women's Writing Project

The Afghan Women's Writing Project is an online magazine established by novelist Masha Hamilton in the winter of 2008. Their sole focus is to publish the poetry, short stories and personal essays of Afghan women writers whose voices are stifled by the male-dominant Afghan culture. Afghan women work directly with American women writers to express themselves through their writing and develop their craft.

It's a project that requires extreme security - as the website notes, nearly all the women participating are doing so "partially or entirely in secret from friends and family" - but the results are worth it: as one of the American mentors writes, "in their words... I spy courage and determination; hope and sadness; wisdom and fear; and perhaps most important, a wily insistence on maintaining—against huge odds—a relevant voice in their society."

One poet writes, "The Taliban have gone, but the true beast is / still alive," ending with a message that summarizes the entire motive behind The Afghan Women's Writing Project: "The beast is near. The beast is real. / Ahh, the beast can be / an Afghan man who is still alive."

AWWP has also established a grant in honor of Ashton Goodman, a 21 year-old Air Force Senior Airman who was killed by a roadside bomb in May of 2009. Ashton was dedicated to making a difference with Afghan women by using "words not weapons," a message that has now become part of the mission of AWWP. If you're inclined, donations for the grant are greatly appreciated. Only $50 dollars will educate an Afghan girl for one year, and every bit adds up.

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