Amina Abhar Barakzai’s journey is a remarkable success story that originates from the heart of Afghanistan. Born in Herat province, Amina’s path to success was not without its challenges, but her determination and passion for learning transformed obstacles into opportunities.
Amina pursued her bachelor’s degree in law and political science in Kabul, demonstrating her commitment to knowledge and education. However, her thirst for knowledge extended beyond her university courses, as she harbored a deep interest in the world of painting and photography. She dreamed of becoming a teacher at Salam University upon completing her studies, envisioning a future where she could empower women by imparting essential skills in leadership, peacebuilding, and individual rights under the constitution. Unfortunately, the volatile political climate disrupted these aspirations.
“I wanted to raise awareness for women and help them acquire the necessary skills regarding leadership, peace, and individual rights in the constitution, but awareness raising about women’s rights in a country where even women themselves have disappeared seems useless to me.” Amina Abhar Barakzai
Despite the setbacks, Amina chose to channel her energy into nurturing her talents in painting and photography. Her dedication yielded impressive artistic achievements, and she soon found a new calling. She decided to utilize her artistic skills to educate children and share the beauty of her homeland through her captivating artwork.
“I believe that every person and every positive step can be effective, and that’s why I started teaching painting. In the beginning, I wanted only girls to benefit from these classes, but I thought that the participation of boys can also be a sign of balance and mutual acceptance between men and women. This is a golden opportunity to instill the idea in their brains that we are all human before men and women, girls and boys.” expressed Amina.
Since February 2023, Amina embarked on the path of teaching painting to 15 children. While she acknowledges that this number is just a starting point and envisions expansion, she firmly believes in the transformative power of art. To her, art brings stillness to the human soul and preserves a valuable heritage for generations to come. Sadly, the Taliban’s restrictions on artistic pursuits and educational programs for children and youth will lead to depriving an entire generation and their cultural heritage.
Teaching painting in secret became Amina’s greatest challenge, but she persevered. Her motivation lay in the profound satisfaction she derived from this endeavor, despite its lack of financial reward. She revealed that there may be similar programs in other regions and Herat province, yet the sensitive circumstances prevent her from being aware of them. Nevertheless, the support of parents in encouraging their children to participate in her classes fills her with admiration and hope, even though the fear of the Taliban discovering her activities is so much.
With a growing number of students, Amina envisions a brighter future for her fellow countrymen. She views her current progress as a significant achievement, despite the limitations imposed by time and circumstances.
“My only fear is that a day may come when social restrictions force a woman to sell or exhibit her art under a man’s name, draining the spirit and vibrancy from women’s paintings, leaving the canvases colorless and devoid of inspiration and messages,” expressed Amina.
Drawing inspiration from the strong women painters of the past who overcame even greater constraints, Amina Abhar Barakzai remains hopeful. She aspires to nurture a new generation of talented artists—individuals whose hearts flow with the fountain of art and whose minds serve as the keepers of a rich cultural heritage.
Amina Abhar Barakzai’s story is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the transformative power of passion and education. Despite the challenges, she continues to paint a brighter future for herself and her community, one brushstroke at a time.