July 11th, 2011
A Woman Among Warlords

The almost entirely observational approach of the filmmakers…. produces amazing scenes”

–The New York Times

The Issue

Since Afghanistan emerged from under Taliban rule in late 2001, women’s rights have made great strides on paper. But the reality on the ground is a mixed picture. The Loya Jirga of 2003 produced a constitution guaranteeing a place for women at the political table and gender equality for all as a basic right. The classroom, the workplace, the hospital and even the parliament have opened their doors to women, and they are playing an active role in the nation’s reconstruction. But tradition often takes precedence over law, and many Afghan women and girls still fear male reprisal for attending school, working outside the home or even traveling alone. Even in the halls of the national legislature women struggle against the prejudices of a conservative, male-dominated society that resists change under the new banner of democracy.

The Film

A Woman Among Warlords follows the campaign of a woman running in Afghanistan’s first democratic parliament election in more than 30 years. WIDE ANGLE profiles 27 year-old Malalai Joya, one of the country’s most famous (and controversial) women since 2003 when she challenged the power of warlords in national politics. Forced to live in hiding and surrounded by armed guards, Joya conducts her parliamentary campaign in the remote desert province of Farah, the heart of poverty in Afghanistan. Despite death threats and assassination attempts, Joya continues to meet with clan leaders, opium kings, and adolescent girls pressured to marry older men. Six years after a U.S.-led coalition overthrew the Taliban, WIDE ANGLE provides unique insight into the politics and culture of a nation almost ruined by war, still ruled by fear, but desperate for change. A Woman Among Warlords is the television version of the celebrated documentary Enemies of Happiness, a film by Danish director Eva Mulvad.

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