June 14th, 2011
08:20 AM ET

Female Afghan journalist: 'I have no plans to stop'

Mina Habib is doing what would have been unthinkable during the Taliban era. She is one of the few working female Afghan journalists.

For Habib, journalism is a passion, but it also helps support her family. Her father is unemployed, and her mother is partially paralyzed by a stroke.

From Kabul, Habib talked to CNN's Asieh Namdar about the challenges for women in Afghanistan and the inspiration, fears and risks associated with being a female journalist.

Q: Why did you want to be a journalist? Weren't you scared by the obvious risks?

A: I was aware of all the risks involved. Being a female journalist is not socially accepted. But I wanted to highlight the problems of women and children in Afghanistan. I felt I had a responsibility to tell their stories. I knew it would be a huge challenge and there would be many obstacles along the way, but I felt I had to do it, because my country needs Afghan journalists to tell the stories of their own people, to convey the problems that still exist.

Q: Were you inspired by anyone in particular? What are your favorite stories to cover?

A: It was my childhood dream to be a journalist, but no one [person] really inspired me. I like covering politics, exposing corruption and doing stories that involve children. My proudest story was exposing people who use sick children as beggars. A government commission banned the practice after my story.

Q: Were you ever threatened while covering these types of stories?

A: Yes. One of my reports had to do with child labor/child smuggling and children being used for suicide attacks. It was a story that had to be told. I came home that evening and found a letter on my door. I don't know who wrote it. It said my life would be in danger if continued my work as a journalist. I continued! I was also wounded last year while covering a suicide bombing in Kabul. My family blamed all this on my work. But I have no plans to stop.

Q: What's been the reaction, in your family and otherwise, to you wanting to be a journalist?

A: Like many Afghan families, they were totally against it. They wanted me to be a teacher or doctor. My family was worried about how I would be viewed and my safety. They thought it would be a tough job for a woman. They never supported me in this area.

Others are skeptical as well. They consider journalism "immoral work." I can hear them asking, "What is a girl doing outside the home, being a journalist?"

Q: How has life changed for you since the fall of the Taliban?

A: During the Taliban era, women could not work or get an education. They lived in fear. I'm working now, doing something I love. In Kabul, things are better, but in provinces, women are still afraid to work or study. Women can't appear in the media, work or study outside the home.

Q: How do you want to see yourself 10 years from now?

A: I want to be a successful and respected journalist - to do my job, with freedom, without being threatened or harassed.

Q: What is your biggest fear today?

A: People standing in the way of me doing my work. Those who want to stop me from being a journalist. ... I blame cultural and social barriers that don't see women as equal to men. Even Islam says men and women are equal. But many still don't want to believe that. These are the same people who think it is inappropriate for women to even appear in public. I also blame government officials for not doing enough to ensure laws are balanced and fair for women.

Q: What do you do on your day off?

A: I live with my family, so I try to spend time with them. I help my mother and sisters. Sometimes, I bring my work home, writing my reports. My family gets upset. They want me to help with things around house more, instead of on my work.

Q: Do you think you yourself face greater dangers than international journalists who come to Afghanistan to report?

A: I think all journalists who are here to report the truth face danger.

Q: What do you want the world to know about you?

A: I want them to know that despite the obstacles before me, I will continue to work hard and be the best journalist I can be. I'm doing this for the children of Afghanistan because they are the future of this country.

Mina Habib writes for the daily Chiragh newspaper and the Institute for War & Peace Reporting. She received her journalism degree at Kabul University.

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Filed under: Women's issues
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. emir

    I would like to enlist a million or more people to say, PRESIDENT OBAMA there is a time for war and a time for peace, and right now there is time for war in aghfanistan because the men are too chauvinistic to run their country with the help of the women, so to achieve democracy it is needed to arm the woman and give the women the power, they will get rid of the taliban, of course it will mean bloodshed, but freedom is seldom conquered without it, once victory is reached, that will be the time for peace and democracy but we need to make together a strong voice, without freedom live is not worth living....Kancha Libre

    June 22, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. pamiri

    do not worry the time would be arrived to be attacked on terrorists in Pakistan, because all world and its people know now that homeland and the save nets of terrorists is Pakistan and terrorists use there Islamic name like Jaish Muhammad, Lashkar Taeba , Sepaye Sahaba , Jamiyat Holama and etc which all of them are the terrorists and have to removed from the ground,

    from Kabul

    June 15, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lennybaby

      When did yoy decide that, pamiri? Can you prove any of that mumbo-jumbo you posted above? Of course you can't because it's quite dubious if any of it's even true in the first place!

      June 17, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
      • Lennybaby

        Sorry for the missprint above, folks. I meant to print "you", not "yoy". My apologies.

        June 17, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Farzan

    You are such a stupid an person Riza! This video is Pakistani not from Afghanistan!

    June 15, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. pamiri

    Terrorists like Taliban Alqaeda and Izbe Islami which get backs by ISI are the criminals and there is no doubt in it and most of Afghans those who love their countries they know better terrorists, and we and especially i proud of Mina such a brave leady standing working for the conveying the facts to the ears of world and humanity. This has happened by international forces not by Karzai, he does not believe on democracy and equal rights.

    During the Taliban , you could not see any female working outside of the home, although in Quran says men and women have the equal right, but ISI's slaves like Taliban , Alqaeda Izbe Islami do not accept that, and in spite of many crimes Terrorist do on people and civilian , but Karzai says them brothers , why because Karzai thinks same as Taliban and he is a Talib,

    Except killing and destroying Terrorists do know any thing else and we are against them and we would be, and again I proud of what Mina is doing, honestly ,

    From Kabul

    June 15, 2011 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
  5. Grace

    did you get your husband/and his famillies permission to share that video with us??
    Go Mina you are inspiring to ALL women around the world anyone will be greatful to publish your reports...keep doing your hard work it sures pays off...some girl will be a journalist in your country all because of you x

    June 15, 2011 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
  6. Lennybaby

    I've never seen so many lame-brained people commenting in one place as these lame-brained fools keep on bragging about what a "great job" this broad is doing. How corny can you get??? In fact, such ignorance should be outlawed!

    June 14, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      Right, media are controlled by politicians and not all the women can do these kind of privileged jobs.. Most of them will be forced to work as always, feeding the animals and taking care of the house and the children.
      There is nothing new to know about the suicide bombers or the violence in the country

      June 15, 2011 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
  7. Bledsoe

    This ought to make the NATO forces awfully glassy-eyed!

    June 14, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dan from Detroit, MI

    I wonder just how much the right-wing thugs in Washington are paying this broad to brainwash the Afghans to collaborate with the cursed NATO occupying forces. I guess that we'll never know. Anything to get control of Afghan resources!!!

    June 14, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • pamiri

      How much you been paid by ISI , our benefit is good to have relationship with USA rather than Pakistan and Iran and it clear for us ,

      June 15, 2011 at 2:28 am | Report abuse |
  9. Joe

    It will be a good job for your sister.

    June 14, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Chris

    Mina, Thanks for doing a great job for humanity, for your country, and for the world. I pray for your courage and great work. You are above most of us around the world. The world needs more people like you who take risks and go against the odds for the right reasons to serve humanity. The world is watching you. Respecting you. And learning from you. It's wonderful to know that Afgan has great people like you. Enjoy your journey!

    June 14, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lennybaby

      Good grief Chris, you sound like some kind of programmed cult member spewing a lot of that meaningless right-wing mumbo-jumbo. It seems like the right-wing people in the news media do a very good job at brainwashing people as evidenced by your post above and now to use this bimbo to do the same to the Afghan people.

      June 14, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Francois from Mauritius

    Mina is courageous and doing a great job for the future of her country. I hope other female Afghan journalists will follow.

    June 14, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. omar

    Talibans are criminals and terrorist. They are not only against women's right but coward Talibans against all humanity in general. The government of Afghanistan never tried to be against those who are against huamnity but called them "brother Talibs". The so called "brother Talibs" are killing innocent of people every day but Karizi government still ask for peace. I proud for Mina for her courage and hard work. Keep up with great work and be honest in your filed.

    June 14, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bledsoe

      Hey omar, do you honestly believe all that right-wing bla-bla-bla that you posted above? I sincerely hope not!!!

      June 14, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
      • omar

        google it by yourself

        June 15, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • sara

      What Omar said is totally true
      Canadian citizen

      June 14, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. salerno

    Mina should know that it is a lot easier for a woman to be a journalist in Afghanistan than in Europe, at least untill you do not criticize too much the coalition forces. I cannot post here what is required in Europe for a female to have some little chance to be a journalist. In Afghanistan there is the Rawa organization defending the women since many years ago, but they criticized also the coalition and ANA for civilian deaths and crimes against afghan people, so they are ignored.
    There is no comment on the other news about the big problem of civilian casualties, so this topic is a way to overlook the main problems.

    June 14, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      Omar – you are crazy. If Pakistan is a safe heaven for terrorists why USA did not invade Pakistan instead of Afghanistan and Iraq ?

      June 15, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • p3c3

      Who was just found in pakistan? And i'm sure they must be hiding in the Pak-Afg mountains. They are obscure remote places, perfect for there need.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  14. Johan S

    The biggest fear of the mullahs and religious extremists is that women will work. If women work, they won't be dependent on the men .. this is the last thing the religious extremists want. Women's empowerment is the key to loosening the grip of the crazies. Bangladesh has almost as many muslims as Pakistan, yet we never hear of terrorists from there. Bangladesh is a country where women workers are more common than in other muslim countries, and so the Islamists have very limited power to oppress them (oppression definitely still happens .. but it's not as common or widespread). In fact for the last 20 years they have consistently elected a female prime minister to lead them.

    June 14, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  15. weasel

    The girl has guts that is for sure. Hope her risks pay off for the world.

    June 14, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  16. Lawerence

    Man she is beautiful, I appreciate her work and the risks she takes. I want to marry her!

    June 14, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  17. EricLr

    So basically she's saying that you are free to do what you want in the capital, but everywhere outside of the capital is a wasteland of poverty and oppression. Sounds like Texas.

    June 14, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  18. Nesa from Florida

    How wonderful of Mina Habib, a courageous woman, who would seek to break down all barriers to tell the stories of the silent, oppressed voices who live in constant fear because of their gender. Many parts of the world have embraced the 21st Century thru innovation and modern technological advancement;however the Middle East and other parts of the world continue to be trapped by the dark ages of the 10 Century way of thinking. Good for you Mina! I hope your government will support you and many more like you!

    June 14, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  19. Tracy

    Mina is an inspiration. I hope she remains safe in her work.

    June 14, 2011 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |