My name is Salma Niazi, and I am the founder of The Afghan Times. I'm a 23-year-old Afghan female journalist, and my journey in journalism started at a young age with a burning desire to empower Afghan women. Seven years ago, I found myself as the sole female journalist in the eastern Laghman province of Afghanistan. It was a challenging and often lonely path, but I was determined to represent women through local media, even as I faced numerous obstacles, threats, and the constant specter of fear.
When the Taliban took control in Kabul, I was compelled to leave Afghanistan for Pakistan. My decision to leave my homeland was a heart-wrenching one, driven by the harsh restrictions imposed by the Taliban on women in the media. However, even in exile, my commitment to providing a platform for Afghan women remained unwavering. I couldn't simply stand by and watch the plight of Afghan women worsen.
Witnessing the relentless and harsh restrictions imposed on Afghan women, especially in the media, I made the courageous decision to create a platform for Afghan women journalists and women in general to share their stories. That's how The Afghan Times came into existence, born out of the need to amplify the voices that were being silenced. Even in exile, I was determined to provide a platform for Afghan women's stories to be heard.
Today, at The Afghan Times, I lead a dedicated team of Afghan women journalists, each of whom shares the same determination and resilience. Some of them continue to work within Afghanistan, despite the risks, bravely sharing the stories of Afghan women who would otherwise go unheard. We stand firm and unwavering in our fight for our rights, championing media freedom and advocating for women's rights in the face of adversity.
I take immense pride in my resilient team in Kabul, who, like me, are producing essential work despite the numerous challenges and sanctions. We are determined to ensure that the narratives of Afghan women are heard, documented, and preserved for the world to see.
My motivation to stand up for other women comes from the fact that there was no one there to stand up for me when I was facing the challenges of being a female journalist in Afghanistan. Every morning, I connect with my team in Kabul through my small room's computer, listening to their stories filled with fear and violence. Their experiences fuel my determination, and I publish these stories in The Afghan Times, ensuring that their voices are heard.
With just one computer and a small team, we fight for the women of our great nation, advocating for their rights and striving for a brighter future. Our hope is for a day when every Afghan girl can study in her homeland, free from the oppression and restrictions that have plagued our nation.
To fulfill my dreams, I persist in working in exile, despite the challenges and obstacles. I am determined to create a better platform for fellow women, not just in Afghanistan but around the world. The Taliban may have closed our schools and universities, denying us media space, but I dare to provide a voice for women through The Afghan Times. They may label us (women) as weak, but I dare to make a change. I am not afraid; I dare to write and share the stories of Afghan women, and I will not allow the suffering of Afghan women to go unnoticed. I dare to amplify their voices, even in the face of adversity, for I believe in the power of storytelling and advocacy for a brighter future.