By Somaia Valizadeh
I was discussing her activities and the Zan Times media with Zahra Nader, a journalist who was exiled and founded the organization. In August 2022, Zahra Nader and a group of female reporters founded Zan Times in a small room with limited amenities. It was established in Toronto, Canada, with the intention of upholding and defending Afghan women’s freedom and human rights.
Zahra fled Afghanistan in 2017 and arrived in Canada as a refugee. She resides with her child and spouse. Nader is a Ph.D. candidate in feminism, gender, and women’s studies at York University in Toronto. She holds a master’s degree in communication and culture from the same institution.
In 2011, Zahra Nader began working as an editor and writer for Afghan media outlets in her home city of Kabul. She became the first Afghan journalist to work with the Western media in Afghanistan when she joined the New York Times’ Kabul bureau in 2016. She has been writing as a freelance Journalists for TIME magazine, Foreign Policy, DW, the Guardian, and the Globe and Mail.
At Zan Times, Zahra and her colleagues cover human rights breaches, particularly those pertaining to women’s rights and environmental issues. Several journalists now have jobs thanks to her on this platform. Within the ZanTimes media six female journalists work full-time, while they have a circle of freelancers working for them as well.
She has always been afraid and anxious about her colleagues’ safety and security in Afghanistan; it’s possibly her biggest nightmare. Zahra Nader went on to say that because the Taliban has kept women out of society, they are more aware of reports regarding women’s rights. Zahra Nader stated that she had financial difficulties and that the Zan Times was founded entirely on her own dime, devoid of any outside funding.
On August 8, 2022, a year ago, the Zan Times website went live, and she was in bed, unwell. She was immobile. Zahra claims, “I wasn’t sure if it was the fear of failure that paralyzed me or the stress and sleepless nights.”
She has spent the majority of her career in Kabul working as an editor and journalist for regional and global media, therefore she hasn’t had the luxury of team management experience. She was ignorant of the requirements for establishing a nonprofit organization.
However, Zahra was driven to write and report about the mistreatment of women and other marginalized groups in Afghanistan during Taliban rule.Together with several Afghan journalists, Zahra Nader established a newsroom with the goal of promoting freedom and equality for all Afghan nationals. They intend to follow this course for many years to come.
The talk with Zahra Nader ended in a pleed from both of us: we need to perform our jobs with passion and the expectation that it will have an impact. By preserving the history of Afghanistan and the injustices experienced by our people, we are contributing to the creation of a better future for that country. Women journalists and writers now produce seventy percent of our work. She hopes that others are listening to them.
Zahra Nader was given the Kathy Gannon Award in February 2023