WASHINGTON — In August of 2021, as U.S. forces neared completion of their withdrawal from Afghanistan, Yalda Royan was looking for a way out.
"Shooting [had] started inside the city and people started running," she said.
Royan knew she did not want her daughters to grow up under the militant regime, whose harsh rules drastically restrict the rights of women.
"Right now, being a woman inside Afghanistan is like being a bird inside a cage. They cannot get out of the home, they don't have the freedom of movement," said Royan. "It's just a hell."
She and her two daughters managed to escape to the United States.
Now, almost a year and a half later, she's part of a group of displaced Afghan women using art to help tell their stories.
It's currently displayed on the National Mall and will be there through Monday.
Royan hopes the imagery reminds people of the challenges facing those still in Afghanistan.
VOICE, a nonprofit that advocates for female refugees around the world, helped put the exhibit together.
Royan works with them as the Afghanistan Technical Team Leader. She did not create any of the art on display herself. Instead, she connected with fellow displaced Afghan women and helped give their art a platform.
She hopes the final product can show the world a glimpse of the brighter future for Afghanistan that she dreams of.
"A day that the Taliban are gone. My country is in peace," she said. "And women are enjoying their rights. And they can shine in every area that they want."
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