We Are The Daughters of Afghan Witches Crop Top Hoodie
A Daughters of Witches x Blingistan Collaboration: The Peach Crop Top Hoodie!
We picked five extraordinary Afghan females, depicted by original sketches, with their names emblazoned underneath in both English and Dari/Pashto.
Meena Keshwar, Malalai of Maiwand, Queen Soraya, Rukshana, and Rabia Balkhi.
A little about these historical figures:
Meena Keshwar: Meena was the unstoppable force behind the creation of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan in 1977. Meena believed in an Afghanistan for Afghans with a secular government, and more involvement of women both in political and social sectors of Afghanistan, through non-violent means. Though she was assassinated in 1987, Meena, whose name means "love" in Pashto, was a community organizer, activist, and leader whose memory lives on through her ideologies, speeches and the organization she founded, which still exists today. RAWA has opposed the Soviet-backed government of Afghanistan, the Mujahideen government after the fall of the Soviet government, the "Islamic" oligarchy of the Taliban government, as well as the US-backed government of today's Afghanistan. The organization aims to "involve women of Afghanistan in both political and social activities aimed at acquiring human rights for women and continuing the struggle against the government of Afghanistan based on democratic and secular, non fundamentalist principles, in which women can participate fully", and as their website states: "If you are freedom-loving and anti-fundamentalist, you are with RAWA."
Malalai of Maiwand: Afghanistan's Joan of Arc- but even more badass. When the English were invading her village of Maiwand, during the second Anglo-Afghan War, and winning, 18 year-old Malalai got up and invigorated the Afghan soldiers, though they were far outnumbered, with her poetry. As she picked up the flag from the dead flag-bearers hand, and got up on his horse, she sung out to her fellow countrymen that if they did not die fighting for the homeland they were symbols of shame! She fought alongside the men, as their spirits were lifted, and the Battle of Maiwand was won in favor of the Afghans, which subsequently led to the entire war being won by the Afghans. The English retreated, and never managed to successfully colonize the Afghans. Unfortunately, Malalai's fate wasn't as sweet- she died during the battle, but was given a martyr's burial, revered and remembered as a war hero, and is a household name in Afghanistan, as not only a brave, patriotic and caring woman but as a true hero.
Queen Soraya: Soraya Tarzi or Queen Soraya, GBE, was the Queen Consort of Afghanistan and wife of King Amanullah in the 1920's. King Amanullah's reign was marked by women's rights, intellectualism, economic growth, and very secular values, of which Queen Soraya- who was educated by her father, a poet, patriot, and scholar-played a key role in. Not only was she the Minister of Education, she also opened the first school for girls in Kabul, founded the first magazine for women, but was also the first Muslim Queen to have ever appeared publicly beside her husband- whether it be on a trip abroad, or on horseback at a hunting event. At a speech she famously said: "It (Independence) belongs to all of us and that is why we celebrate it. Do you think, however, that our nation from the outset needs only men to serve it? Women should also take their part as women did in the early years of our nation and Islam. From their examples we must learn that we must all contribute toward the development of our nation and that this cannot be done without being equipped with knowledge. So we should all attempt to acquire as much knowledge as possible, in order that we may render our services to society in the manner of the women of early Islam." Her memory lives on through her reign, and when she famously ripped off
her veil (and every woman in the audience followed suit) at the end of one of her husband's speech about veils not being
mandatory for women in Islam. A true badass!
Rukshana: Also known as Queen Rukshana, Rukshana was the Afghan wife of Alexander the Great, and as legend has it- the greatest love of his life, as he apparently fell in love with her on first sight. Though very little is known about Rukshana, due to her reign being over 2000 years ago, Rukshana was said to have been a fierce and intelligent woman who did not just merely sit idly by as her husband took over the world, but more along the lines of a loyal, cunning and valuable right-hand woman. She bore Alexander one son before his death, and was his most beloved wife. Don't let the Hollywood adaptation fool you- Rukshana is not Puerto Rican- she is in fact from Balkh, Afghanistan.
Rabia Balkhi: Rabia Balkhi was a poet, born into a royal family, during the 900's A.D. Historians depict her as the first female poet in the New Persian Poetry genre. Though a lot of her poetry has been lost, it is known that Rabia pioneered a lot of concepts for Persian poetry at the time- writing about love and eroticism, and is heavily praised and cited by her contemporaries. She fell in love with a Turkish servant to the court, and once he was killed, slashed her wrists and wrote her final poem in her own blood, on the walls of the bathroom she died in:
"I am caught in love's web so deceitful,
None of my endeavors turned fruitful,
I knew not when I rode the high blooded stead,
The harder I pulled its reins the less it would heed,
Love is an ocean with such a vast space,
No wise man can swim it in any place,
A true lover should be faithful till the end,
And face life's reproached trend,
When you see things hideous, fancy them neat,
Eat poison, but taste sugar sweet."
About our collaborators: Daughters of Witches is a coven for witches who want to support each other. Before you roll your eyes and go “oh just another feminist e-shop”, let us stop you. Yes, we are an e-shop, yes we are feminist, and yes there are many of them right now. But (and this is a big but), we want to be more than that. We chose witches for a reason: these women helped other women and were breaking gender boundaries. So this e-shop is actually a platform that offers us the tools to create a coven of women and members of the LGBTQ+ community who help, support and uplift each other. In the European Union, women make up only 30% of entrepreneurs. The gender gap in employment, pay, financial resources, access to higher positions in companies, is very real. In many ways, women and genderqueer persons are still economically disadvantaged. But did you know that women are the world’s most powerful consumers? Women drive 70-80% of all consumer purchasing, through a combination of their buying power and influence (you can read more here). What this means is that women and genderqueer individuals have the power to change things. We have the power to ask companies to improve, the ability to change the products that are being sold to us, support women and genderqueer entrepreneurs, businesses led by women and members of the LGBTQ+ community, change the way women and genderqueer persons are represented. How? By uniting and supporting each other.
Watch out, because witches are back and they mean business.
When witchery was still a crime in Europe and Northern America, the image of the witch was used to oppress women. These women were often healers, wise persons, who were using their knowledge to help others.
But thanks to pop culture, witchery is becoming more popular, and we now have the opportunity to reclaim these labels to construct new rhetoric.
We do not want witches to be seen as dangerous villains anymore, but as powerful women and genderqueer individuals who use their skills to help others, women who build covens to support each other.
Zuza Siwek is a young artist mostly focused on photography and makeup, still exploring her own identity and sexuality. Zuza works as a journalist even though she has a problem with putting her thoughts into the right words. She loves working with people who are not afraid to show their true selves, who are a great source of inspiration and empowerment for her. Her hobbies include reading about divas and petting dogs. She captured the main image as well as the third image.