In March, Zahra Elham became the first woman to win the Afghan version of American Idol — Afghan Star. She won the 14th edition of the televised singing competition after male contestants took the prize 13 years in a row. Elham belongs to the ethnic Hazara minority and performs Hazara and Persian folk music, while wearing traditional Afghan dresses.
Speaking to AFP, Elham said,
“I was very proud of myself but at the same time shocked to be the first woman to win the contest.”
In her early 20s, Elham realises that her voice is important for the women in Afghanistan — a country torn by war and still reeling under the effects of the Taliban rule that lasted between 1996 and 2001. If Taliban returns to power, Elham says,
“I will fight with my music, because I want to make my life music and singing.”
Afghanistan lists as one of the worst countries in the world when it comes to women’s rights. It ranks in the bottom 10 countries on the United Nation’s Gender Inequality Index.