Writer tells about women with courage in Afghanistan

Being born in Afghanistan is one of the most unlucky fates. Being born female in Afghanistan is even more unfortunate.

This is one of the messages writer and Arizona State University professor Melissa Pritchard came away with after being embedded in Afghanistan in 2009 with female U.S. Air Force members who worked as liaisons between Afghanistan women and the U.S. government.

Pritchard told the story of Sr. Airmen Ashton Goodman, who praised the courage of Afghan women; they could be executed if Taliban soldiers discovered their writings. Goodman, who yearned to one day be a published author, was killed in a roadside bomb attack while serving in Panjshir province.

“It infuriates me that Afghan women are treated as second-class citizens,” Goodman told Pritchard in an interview before she was killed.

Pritchard’s presentation was one of a weekend of events at a literacy festival sponsored by the Western Colorado Writers’ Forum at Colorado Mesa University.

A number of the 19 authors who attended the festival will be on hand for a panel discussion this morning from 10 a.m. to noon during a community breakfast at 800 Colorado Ave. Cost is $5.

Festival organizer Sandy Dorr said this is the second literacy festival for the group, and the caliber of authors has been outstanding.

“As a writer, I want to have community,” said Dorr, director of the Western Colorado Writers’ Forum. “We’ve worked long and hard. I think it’s great that we’re building the beginning of community.”

The conference attracted writers and participants from around the region and state. Dorr said organizers tried to attract diversity among writers and artists for the events, including Columbian poet Bella Clara Ventura and Boulder-based poet and editor, Uche Ogbuji,  originally from Nigeria.

“We want to have diverse voices,” Dorr said. “That’s important for this community to hear.”

For information and to become a member, visit the Western Colorado Writers’ Forum at westerncoloradowriters.org.

For information about the late Ashton Goodman and Pritchard’s writing about her, visit the Afghan Women’s Writing Project, http://www.awwproject.org.


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