Through the lens

Through a different lens

Examining women amateur filmmakers' narratives before and after the Taliban in Afghanistan
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The experiences of women in Afghanistan, both prior to and following the Taliban era, are diverse and multifaceted. Unfortunately, since the Taliban's return to power in August 2021, there have been reports of mistreatment of women who oppose the Taliban's stringent policies.[1] Furthermore, as a result of the escalating isolation of the country following the Taliban's assumption of power, there is a scarcity of accessible information concerning the present situation of women on the ground. Notwithstanding these challenges, certain Afghan women have persistently resisted by documenting their experiences and expressing their dissent through digital platforms. Notably, activists and amateur women filmmakers have played a pivotal role in capturing the realities of life under the Taliban rule. They have utilised social media platforms such as YouTube and Twitter to obtain an unfiltered perspective of Afghanistan.[2]

Zahra, Herat, June 2023    Shirin, Kabul, June 2023
Zahra(Herat) and Shirin(Kabul), June 2023

This E-Paper explores the insights that can be gained from these films in our efforts to understand the current crisis that women in Afghanistan face. It is crucial to avoid stereotypical portrayals often perpetuated in Western media and consider the impact of the proliferation of amateur cinema and increased accessibility of cameras and internet connectivity in nations like Afghanistan governed by religious dictatorships. The article delves into the works of two young Afghan women, Shirin and Zahra, who are amateur filmmakers, to examine how their films have transitioned from the personal and familial to the public sphere and how this has influenced their documentary approach. The article also considers how these films have evolved since the Taliban's resurgence and how they function as a social and historical archive.





[1] Stefanie Glinski and Ruchi Kumar, Taliban U-turn over Afghan girls’ education reveals deep leadership divisions, The Guardian, 25 March 2022.

[2]Taliban releases four women’s rights activists but fear persists, France 24, 18 February 2022.

Product details
Date of Publication
August 2023
Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung e.V., Schumannstraße 8, 10117 Berlin
Number of Pages
All rights reserved
Language of publication
Table of contents


Introduction: Examining the nexus between

women‘s status in Afghanistan and

the Taliban government  (4)

A. The representation of women in

social media: A comparative analysis before

and after the resurgence of the Taliban in 2021 (6)

B.Transforming amateur films in digital media

into socio-cultural documents  (9)

C. Afghan women behind the camera: A

tale of resilience and creativity under Taliban rule  (11)

Conclusion (17)