Gulali's Odyssey: An Afghan Woman's Story of Resilience in Italy

Text and photos by Basira Taheri

The ongoing political instability, coupled with decades of war in Afghanistan, has caused human migration for years. Afghan women have consistently been victims of war and displacement. They seek safe countries to achieve their goals and dreams, and many Afghan women have chosen Europe as their final destination for realising these aspirations.

Gulali is one of the active Afghan women who immigrated to Italy. Within four years of Gulali’s marriage, her husband was killed by the Taliban in 1996. As a young widow with two daughters, she encountered numerous challenges in Afghanistan because she was a woman. She and her daughters were denied the opportunity to continue their studies by the male members of her family. Nevertheless, she persisted in fighting for her rights and remained dedicated to her work and activism.

In 2021, she was evacuated to Italy by the NGO where she was working. Since her arrival in Italy, new opportunities have appeared. She has achieved many things in a short time, taking advantage of all the available possibilities for immigrant women. She is working as a head chef in a restaurant, catering for conferences and events, and has successfully passed the B1 Italian language proficiency exam.

Gulali represents Afghan women in Italian spaces, speaking on their behalf at conferences and professional events. She is working tirelessly, embracing all challenges and pressures. Her goal is to achieve in Italy what she could not in Afghanistan. Gulali aspires to continue her studies in Italy and become a role model leader for migrant women.

However, with the current right-wings political victories, and restrictions imposed on migrants in Italy and many European countries, Gulali is concerned about her future in Europe. She emphasises: “I came here hoping to continue my activism and to feel safe. However, with the current news regarding restrictions on migrants, I am worried. I understand that voting is crucial for bringing about these changes, and with the upcoming election scheduled between 6th and 9th June 2024, it’s imperative that every one of us should vote. Once I gain my right to vote, I will exercise that privilege.”