The present situation of women in Afghanistan is something none of us are alien to. Battling all odds, Afghanistan’s all-female orchestra ‘Zohra’ led by Ms. Negin Khpolwak is all set to perform at the World Economic Forum at Davos.
Amidst death threats and accusations of taking down their families’ honour, these women are out to write their own destiny. Zohra comprises of 35 talented musicians aged 13 to 20, some among them are orphans and from very poor families.
The orchestra will perform at the closing ceremony on Friday and during another session on Thursday. Their brave, young conductor will be celebrating her 20th birthday on their flight back from the event. Negin is also Afghanistan’s first female conductor.
Taliban banned music in Afghanistan during their repressive 1996-2001 long rule, and the art is still looked down upon in the highly conservative Afghan society. Aside of being conservative, Afghanistan is also a society with a strong stance on gender roles making it even more difficult for women to pursue their dreams.
Negina aspires to win a scholarship and move outside of the country to forward her education as well as musical career. Speaking to AFP, Negina said that she believes it’s upto her generation to change the situation in Afghanistan but it will take at least one generation to cause considerable amount of change.
Dr Ahmad Sarmast, the musicologist who founded Afghanistan’s National Institute of Music (Anim) as well as the Zohra orchestra told AFP that Zohra is very symbolic. He hopes to change the way the world sees Afghanistan as a lot more than the than the Kalashnikov, rockets and suicide attacks.
Music has given these young girls all the hope their society has been unable to. Here’s hoping the world will get to see a lot more of them and their talent in future.