Farzana Wahidy

Kabul, Afghanistan

Maryam in Afghanistan, shot for ActionAid's women's photography campaign Women by Women

Farzana Wahidy was the first professional female Afghan photojournalist to work with major international press agencies including the Associated Press.

She studied at the prestigious AINA Photojournalism Institute in Kabul and has gone on to become an award-winning photographer.

Farzana’s work has largely focused on capturing the often-untold stories of women and girls in Afghanistan, something which, despite its challenges, she continues to document. She feels passionate about telling Afghan women and girls’ stories in the most authentic way possible.


Women by Women is celebrating the inspiring stories of women in the countries we work in – and the female photographers capturing those stories from behind the lens.

Learn about our work changing the lives of women and girls living in poverty, for good.

Maryam, shot for ActionAid's women's photography campaign Women by Women
In colour Maryam, shot for ActionAid's women's photography campaign

Maryam is an MP in Kabul.

She successfully ran as a candidate in Afghanistan’s parliamentary election in 2018, making her one of the country’s youngest MPs.

Maryam prepares for her role as MP, shot for ActionAid's women's photography campaign

Maryam prepares for a speech as she commences her new role as an MP in the Afghanistan Parliament

Maryam prepares for a speech as she commences her new role as an MP in the Afghanistan Parliament

Maryam meets the public, shot for ActionAid's women's photography campaign

Maryam poses for a photo with a burger shop seller while collecting votes in Kabul province

Maryam and her supporters, shot for ActionAid's women's photography campaign

Maryam and her supporters count votes from different polling stations in Kabul

Maryam poses for a photo with a burger shop seller while collecting votes in Kabul province

Maryam and her supporters count votes from different polling stations in Kabul

Mariam Sama was born out of her country as refugee in Iran, but returned with a dream to live and work in Afghanistan after the Taliban regime suffered defeats.

She received 1,439 votes in the 2018 Wolesi Jirga Election and won a seat in the Afghan Parliament.

Maryam casts her vote at a polling station, shot for ActionAid's women's photography campaign

Maryam casts her vote in a polling station

Maryam casts her vote in a polling station

Laila, shot by Farzana, for ActionAid's Women by Women campaign
In colour, ActionAid's Women by Women campaign photography

Laila runs Kabul's only drug rehabilitation centres.

Throughout the past nine years she has helped to rehabilitate some 5,000 people with addiction-related issues.

Laila at her home, shot for ActionAid's women's photography campaign

Laila rests at home before visiting the rehabilitation clinic

Laila rests at home before visiting the rehabilitation clinic

Laila partly funds her clinics by running some of Kabul’s most famous cafés and restaurants, as well as a shoe shop. However, she still finds it a struggle to generate enough money to sustain the vital community work

She has faced huge challenges in her work; running her own businesses in this male-dominated society has not been easy.

“I do two jobs," she says.

"The one that I work and the other one where I fight to be able to work”.

Laila travelling to work, shot for ActionAid's women's photography campaign
Laila at work, shot for ActionAid's women's photography campaign
Laila at her rehabilitation clinic, shot for ActionAid's women's photography campaign
Laila searches for those in need of support, shot for ActionAid's women's photography campaign

Laila searches for people under a bridge, during a visit to meet with those struggling with addictions. She encourages addicts to visit and benefit from the clinics.

Laila searches for those in need of support, shot for ActionAid's women's photography campaign

Laila searches for people under a bridge, during a visit to meet with those struggling with addictions. She encourages addicts to visit and benefit from the clinics.

Enjila, female boxer, shot for ActionAid's women's photography campaign
Enjila, shot for ActionAid's Women by Women photo campaign

Enjila Naseri practices Kowat Alrami, an Arabian martial art.

She is in the Afghanistan Olympic team.

Enjila in the ring, shot for ActionAid's women's photography campaign
Enjila training, shot for ActionAid's women's photography campaign
Enjila training with others, shot for ActionAid's women's photography campaign
Enjila in the ring, shot for ActionAid's women's photography campaign

Enjila was born in Iran and lived as a refugee in Iran, Pakistan and India before moving to her motherland of Afghanistan.

She now practices Kowat Alrami, which translates as ‘power of throw’ and is a fighting style combining elements of boxing, kicking, holding and throwing.

Enjila stretches at the gym in Aghanistan, shot for ActionAid's women's photography campaign
Enjila celebrating her birthday, shot for ActionAid's women's photography campaign

Enjila celebrates her 22nd birthday with family and friends

Enjila celebrates her 22nd birthday with family and friends