From a small office space at a Canadian university, journalist Zahra Nader runs a media outlet for Afghan women.
Her mission: to provide a platform where women can share their experiences in their own words.
For several years, Nader, 33, worked as a journalist in Afghanistan. But in 2017, she moved to Canada to study.
At that time, Afghanistan still had a vibrant media community where women like Nader were able to work freely.
But after the Taliban took over and media freedoms declined, with fewer women able to keep working, Nader saw a gap for news coverage. In August 2022, she launched Zan Times, one of several media sites set up by Afghan journalists living in exile.
"When we came together and launched Zan Times, we decided that we define our own realities and [share] our experience and the experiences of women without any censorship," Nader said.
The news website mirrors Nader's other interests. She is a doctoral student in gender and women's studies at York University in Toronto.
Currently, Zan Times covers women's issues, but Nader says she plans to expand that coverage to include the environment and LGBTQ+ issues.
"We want to be the voice of marginalized and underprivileged segments of the [Afghan] society," Nader said.
Afghan women 'under assault,' says Nader
International watchdogs say the human rights situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated since the Taliban's takeover in August 2021.
The Taliban "imposed policies severely restricting basic rights — particularly those of women and girls," Human Rights Watch said.
Among those actions are a ban on girls attending secondary education and universities, working with government and nongovernmental organizations, and traveling long distances without a close male relative.
The Taliban's spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, in an interview with VOA, denied that restrictions are imposed on media.
"[Journalists] can question [authorities] and have open discussions and independent reports," he said.
He also dismissed threats or restrictions on female journalists, saying, "You can see, women work in the media."
Nader, however, said that Afghan women "are under assault."
"Our responsibility, as journalists, is to report and document" what is happening, she said.
That commitment to journalism earned Nader a Kathy Gannon Legacy Award from the Coalition For Women In Journalism organization earlier this year.
The award is named in honor of the veteran Associated Press correspondent Gannon, who was seriously injured while on assignment in Afghanistan.
"The reason that [Nader] got selected very deservingly is because she is a great journalist. She cares about what is happening in Afghanistan," said Kiran Nazish, the founding director of the Coalition For Women In Journalism. "She started this amazing news outlet with very little resources."
Nazish told VOA that the work of nonprofit news organizations such as Zan Times is crucial in a country like Afghanistan.
"I think these are the only outlets that are going to give us a peek into what is happening in the country," Nazish said.
Nader's Zan Times team includes 12 full-time and four part-time journalists, including women reporters inside Afghanistan.
"All of our reporters in Afghanistan are women," she told VOA.
After the Taliban's takeover, the number of journalists, particularly women, decreased drastically in Afghanistan.
Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders said that currently no women journalists are working in 11 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces.
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For Nader, the safety of her team in Afghanistan is a priority.
"We don't know what would happen to them if the Taliban find out about them. It is our nightmare," she said.
They use several measures to ensure the safety of those in Afghanistan.
"First, our policy is that none of our colleagues would report under their original name. Besides, no family members or friends should know if they are reporting. Those in Afghanistan should not know each other. They will only contact those colleagues who are outside the country," she said
Nader said that it is important that women inside Afghanistan are given voices as they are "being removed" from public life under the Taliban.
But her news website is also a personal mission.
Nader was a child when the Taliban seized power in the 1990s, and her family was forced to leave Afghanistan for Iran. While living there as a refugee, she was not allowed to get an education.
"Now millions of women and girls in Afghanistan live the same experience," Nader said. "I do not want girls to go through [that]."
Only when her family returned to Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban in 2001, could she get an education. "There was no building for our school. We studied in tents. But I was happy to have the right to education," she remembered.
"That is why, as a journalist, I want to make sure that the world hears Afghan girls and women."
Najiba Salam from VOA's Afghan Service contributed to this report. This story originated in VOA's Afghan service.