In Her Hands review – a country divided and in despair

By Romey Norton
Published: November 16, 2022 (Last updated: November 17, 2022)
In Her Hands review –  a country divided and in despair


The plight of a woman trying to bring education, security, and peace to her country, whilst the Taliban tries to kill her. This documentary is emotional, eye-opening, and evidence that change is needed.

We review the Netflix Documentary film In Her Hands, which was released on November 16th, 2022. 

In Her Hands is a documentary film about Afghanistan’s youngest female mayor Zarifa Ghafari, and follows her during the countdown to, and then just after, the fall of Kabul back into the hands of the Taliban. From renowned directors Tamana Ayazi and Marcel Mettelsiefen (Watani: My Homeland) this film was shot over two years and has been condensed to one hour and thirty-three minutes. 

The film opens in August of 2021, and we’re thrown straight into the tension and fear of what will happen with the United States pulling out of the country, and the Taliban taking over. People, especially women, will now be subjected to a new reality, one that isn’t in their favor. Women have obstacles put in their way from birth, and the passion and upset in this documentary that we see from not only Zarifa herself but her family, is heartbreaking. 

Ghafari, who is a politician, entrepreneur, and outspoken advocate of women’s rights and the need for education, became the youngest mayor at the age of twenty-six and now has a serious target on her back. Ghafari wants what we all deserve, which is better education, equality, and peace for the people in her country. For campaigning this, her and her family’s lives are threatened. Even her father, who was a military man, is killed and the Taliban take credit for it. The upset and trauma she goes through for basic human rights is harrowing. 

There are almost two stories in this documentary film, one about Ghafari and her fight for her career and life, and then about the Taliban. Now whilst both are connected, I was more interested in who Zarifa Ghafari was/is and what she has been through, rather than watching the Taliban. You get a glimpse of how the weight of her country is in her hands, but I wanted to see more of her. What she has accomplished, what she did in America, who she’s spoken to, etc. There’s a piece of me that doesn’t want the Taliban getting any notoriety or screen time. We already know so much about them from the war, but I take this film as a reminder of their barbaric and inhumane rules, which control people and will eventually destroy a country. 

We get to see and hear from Taliban commanders, watch the Taliban teaching children, and see real-life footage of them taking over Kabul. There is also footage from a girls’ school being blown up and Ghafari visiting the victims in the hospital. There’s a lot to see and take in with this documentary and part of me wishes it would have been done maybe over three episodes to fully explore the life that was and now is. 

This documentary has the platform and power to be inspiring and inform audiences of the struggles women/people are going through in Afghanistan. However, I do feel it lacked information I think they assumed audiences would know. As America has pulled out of the war, this documentary seems a plight to not forget Afghanistan and its people as the Taliban slowly takes over and will continue to take over. There is very much still a war going on in Afghanistan and I worry about its future. Ghafari is living in Germany as a refugee currently and will be releasing her book soon, so maybe this will answer questions left in the film and give even more insight into her and her future plans.  

What did you think of the film IN HER HANDS? Comment below.

You can watch this series with a subscription to Netflix.  

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