I am currently in Jalalabad with my partner, Sydney Peace Prize winner George Gittoes at the Yellow House Jalalabad an arts centre we co founded in 2010. I have been invited to attend a ceremony for International Women’s Day held in honour of Afghan Women tomorrow the 9th March. The ceremony will have the wife of President Ashraf Ghani, Rula Ghani, First Lady, in attendance and I have the honour of singing the national song of the area in Pashto on behalf of the women here who are not allowed by law to sing.
The event is in fact very dangerous as IS are only 3 kilometres out of town with the Afghan Army and Taliban holding them off. These women are incredibly brave and it’s going to be a real honour!
I went shopping with Hijerat our cook and my personal body guard (he is great in the kitchen and no one dares mess with him on the street).
I saw in a dress shop the most incredible work of art- a Kuchi Dress decorated with mirrors to ward off the evil eye and beaded charms called ‘Tavisse’ to bring fertility and luck. The brocade is gold thread and intricate with velvet Paisley on black silk- a tradition and hours of fine needlepoint by local women. The colours are iridescent and the head scarf and bloomers are matching, heavily beaded and embroidered also.
The deeper I get into the world of Pashtun women the more I find there is to learn about this complex culture. One thing I do know and that is that the Pashtun Woman is an incredibly tough and in many ways more highly evolved than the men whom they have had to spend their lives carefully appeasing and skirting. A new era is evolving here and it’s so great to be a part of it.
I look forward to sending you as many pictures as I can if the day, it should be fascinating.
Cheers in solidarity!