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As part of Oxfam’s Strategic Partnership project ‘Towards a Worldwide Influencing Network’, the graphic story Zahra: A policewoman in Afghanistan was developed by Jorrit Kamminga, Cristina Durán and Miguel Ángel Giner Bou. The project is funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. The graphic story is part of a long-standing Oxfam campaign that supports the inclusion and meaningful participation of women in the Afghan police. The story portrays the struggles of a young woman from a rural village who wants to become a police officer.
While a fictional character, Zahra’s story represents the aspirations and dreams of many young Afghan women who are increasingly standing up for their rights and equal opportunities, but who are still facing structural societal and institutional barriers. For young women like Zahra, there are still few role models and male champions to support their cause. Yet, as Oxfam’s project has shown, their number is growing, which contributes to small shifts in behaviour and perceptions, gradually normalizing women’s presence in the police force.
If a critical mass of women within the police force can be reached and their participation increasingly becomes meaningful, this can reduce the societal and institutional resistance over time. Oxfam hopes the fictional character of Zahra can contribute to that in terms of awareness raising and the promotion of women’s participation in the police force.
The story is also available on the #IMatter website.