“Women’s Hill”

Afghan widows bound by shared adversity build a community on a hill

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Woman and her children at "Women's Hill" in Afghanistan. (Radio Free Europe)

In Afghanistan, thousands of widows faced with nowhere to go, have built a community of mud-homes on a steep hill in Kabul. It’s become known as “Women’s Hill.” Afghanistan currently has an estimated 2 million widows, all of whom face few options to provide for themselves and their children. The most common option for them is remarrying. These women face a lack of support from the government that has little to offer and barriers to economic empowerment in a society that oppresses them, but they’ve banded together in a show of true solidarity and are “forging a community of sisters bound together by shared adversity.” To work and provide for themselves as these women do, is a dramatic breaking of social taboos. In a video, Radio Free Europe interviewed a woman named Rayes Gul, whose husband was killed when a rocket landed on their home 10 years ago. She spoke of the hardship they face, particularly the lack of proper nutrition. “There’s nothing to eat here,” told the video crew. To provide for her children she said, “I buy dried pepper, which my children eat with bread.” Sadly, the most these women receive is $150 a year from the government and rations of rice and cooking oil. Many women were wanderers until they found the hill community, which was previously inhabited by feral dogs. Though the mud homes are built on government land, and in constant threat of being leveled, a woman named Bibi Shaqand says, “we built this community with enormous effort, we are not leaving”.

Watch the full story at Radio Free Europe.

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