“I had no idea” is the common reaction to Afghan women in media

There was an interesting comment on Facebook in a thread about my documentary. A gentleman named Keith MacIntyre wrote: “Thanks for sharing that, I had no idea the positive impact the conflict had. Unfortunately the media is more interested in number of bombs dropped, number of soldiers killed, and the politics of going to or leaving a conflict, and rarely shows the impact and the change that has happened.”

This was my response (and gets to the heart of why I’m doing this documentary).

Exactly. When I go to places like Afghanistan, I avoid what I call the “blood-soaked” stories, leaving that up to CNN, the BBC, etc. I look into stories that perhaps appear, on the surface, more boring, but that are true indicators of the impact of foreign aid, military aid and diplomacy. This means looking at improvements in the lives of women and children, the impact of education, from the primary to post-secondary levels, and the integration of women into politics and the economy. Probably the greatest accomplishment that has happened since the 2001 invasion is the development of a free media. Women have taken advantage of this as producers, actors, writers, etc. They are competing with men on an equal footing, and while the men don’t like it (an understatement in some instances), it has broken cultural barriers. The integration of the media from outside has also brought new, liberal ideas that the young are embracing. It is a remarkable transformation.

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