Afghan Women Behind the Wheel

A close up shot of a woman behind a steering wheel wearing a black hijab

The desire for freedom is basic to human nature all over the world. To obtain a driving license is becoming a key factor towards personal freedom for Afghan women. However, is the Afghan society prepared for women behind the wheel?

In Afghan Women Behind the Wheel, director Sahraa Karimi, born and raised in Kabul, follows several Afghan women trying to obtain a driving license. Through personal interviews, Karimi discovers motivations and desires of these women, which are often shaped by their age, social status and family backgrounds. She taps into their lives and dreams, discusses religion and family traditions with them in order to gain deeper understanding of their journey towards their personal freedom.

Filmmaker Sahraa Karimi will join for a post-screening Q&A and conversation, moderated by Iftikhar Dadi, John H. Burris Professor of History of Art.
Free admission. Sponsored by the South Asia Program at the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies in collaboration with Ithaca City of Asylum. Financial support provided by a Title VI grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Cosponsored by Department of Near Eastern Studies, the Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, the Department of Performing & Media Arts, and the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies.

Film website:



A photograph of a woman wearing a black blazer.

About the filmmaker

Sahraa Karimi is an independent film director and screenwriter from Afghanistan. On 15 August 2021, she was forced to leave Afghanistan due to the sudden and unexpected fall of Kabul and the return of the Taliban to power. Currently, she is a Visiting-Professor at Centro Sperimentale di Cinematographia (Rome National Film School) in Rome, Italy. 

She belongs to the second generation of Afghan migrants in Iran. When she was 17 years old, she immigrated to the Slovak Republic. In August 2012, she returned to Kabul, established her own Film Production Company Kapila Multimedia House to support Afghan independent filmmakers and artists. Karimi has received her PhD Degree in the field of Cinema (Fiction Film Directing & Screenwriting) from the Academy of Music and Performing Arts, Film and TV Faculty in Bratislava, Slovakia (FTF-VSMU).