Announcing ‘Untold’, a Programme for Women Writers in Afghanistan


Bagri Foundation is proud to support Untold – a development programme for writers in areas of conflict and post-conflict. Untold’s current project is Write Afghanistan, which offers support for women writers from across the country

In Afghanistan women’s stories are likely to remain hidden .- their capacity to express themselves through creative writing is hampered by instability and internal displacement. Creative expression is intrinsically tied to a sense of individual and national identity – essential for the rebuilding of peace and sustainability. This project aims to give women a space to speak for themselves, without projecting themes onto them, and to offer the reading public a more diverse literary landscape: a region’s upheaval cannot be explained without local, and especially female, perspectives.

After a month-long, countrywide open call in 2019, with support from the The British Council (Afghanistan), 119 submissions of fiction and non-fiction, in Dari and Pashto were received.  Some stories focused on women’s issues in Afghanistan, whilst others explored the war, coming of age, and family dynamics through reportage, folk tales and other more allegorical genres – offering a complex, patchwork narrative.

Ten writers were selected for one to one mentoring, to develop their work remotely with literary translators and editors, foster mutual support, and promote their stories – in translation – to global audiences through a range of international platforms. These writers are now also sharing ideas within their own local online network, using a model which is sensitive to infrastructure, security, and safety.

Longer term, the core group of ten writers will be joined by new writers sourced from further open calls, and one of Untold’s aims is to help build the capacity of local translators and editors, to enhance the local fiction publishing industry in Afghanistan.

Throughout November and December 2020, we will share the profiles of these writers, as well as excerpts from some of their works–in-progress, alongside a video featuring a series of images each writer has selected to describe her writing process, themes and inspirations. Four of these writers will also be published by Words Beyond Borders in December 2020.

You can view the first profile on the Bagri Foundation website here and across our social channels.

“There is an urgent need for women to be able to tell their own stories, in their own voices. Thanks to invaluable support from the Bagri Foundation, Untold – Write Afghanistan is working with local women writers to make this happen.” –  Lucy Hannah, Founder and Director of Untold.

“This project promotes an important, overlooked part of the literary world, women’s own voices from conflict and post-conflict regions. Having had a longstanding personal interest in Afghanistan, we are thrilled to have an opportunity to support this incredibly distinct programme nurturing emerging talent, with legacy and replicability built into its foundations.” – Chelsea Pettitt, Head of Arts, Bagri Foundation


For more information or images, please contact

Notes to Editors

Untold is a writer development programme for writers in areas of conflict and post-conflict . Local writers, who are currently unable to tell their stories beyond their immediate communities, have the opportunity to develop their writing; share their stories with wider communities in their own languages; and reach new global audiences in translation.

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