My name is Alex Footman, and I am a documentary filmmaker currently based in Washington, DC. This winter I made a documentary while living in Afghanistan for two and a half months about an amazing group of women who work and study at the Afghanistan Women Council, an organization founded in Peshawar, Pakistan in 1986 by Mme. Fatana Gailani to provide training to thousands of Afghan women refugees in literacy, livelihood skills, child care, and family health and hygiene.
The film was shot in and around two AWC vocational centers which train 150 Afghan women annually. At the end of the 12-month training, each woman receives a microfinance loan of $130 USD to start a small business. Literacy and microfinance are known empowerment tools, as women who become literate and generate family income are better able to nurture and educate their children and steer a path away from extremist elements.
The stories these women share show that beyond the constant reports of war coming from Afghanistan, there is a breadth to daily life there which is largely unknown to outsiders. Many of these women have experienced abuse, repression, and poverty; the simple act of going to school puts them in danger every day. But there is hope for a better future, and many women have already seen the benefits in their homes and communities that education can bring, especially for the youth.
The resulting documentary film captures the challenges and achievements of Afghan women struggling against custom and tradition to claim their rightful places in Afghan society. It features an original soundtrack performed by musicians from the National Academy of Music in Kabul. The film will not be shown in Afghanistan in order to protect the identities of the courageous women who shared their stories.
Their hope is that exposure in the United States will allow viewers to see them and their country in a new light. If you would like to host a screening or have questions about the AWC, contact Alex Footman today at firstname.lastname@example.org.