From Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan and Eastern Ukraine and the Central African Republic, I have been devoted to covering some of the toughest and most dangerous stories.
Yet every time I am asked, my jaw clenches involuntarily. “Well, I’m heading to Syria next week, so I guess things haven’t changed too much,” I reply, scanning their faces for a hint of shock or judgment.
It is a world that has largely been shut off to Westerners since the U. S. invasion of Afghanistan and, having come of age as a journalist in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, I was desperate to see how that world had changed.
After giving birth to my first son, Ezra (or Ezzie, as we call him), I was determined to show people that I could still do all the same things I had done before—that the experience of motherhood had not changed me and would not change my career.
The room was buzzing with women and girls who clustered around and fussed over us, offering us food and making sure the small heater was pointed toward us, while peppering us with questions in Dari that we couldn’t understand.
This meant that at night, Salma and I slept in the main house with the women and children while Naj slept in another building with two of our Taliban escorts.
The question they really want to ask is, “Surely you’re not doing dangerous assignments anymore, now that you’re a mother?!
For more than 15 years, I have been covering conflicts and crises across the world, most recently as CNN’s chief international correspondent.
So I guess it should not come as a surprise or offense that people want to know if I will continue the same sort of work now that I am a mother.
In my loftier moments, I marvel at the privilege it has afforded me—witnessing history as it unfolds, offering me the chance in the best moments to give a voice to someone who might not have one or to tell stories that might impact a life.
Clarissa Ward: I Work in Some the Most Dangerous Places in the World.
If I were to answer people honestly, I would admit that even I can see it’s often different for fathers doing this work.
One of the first projects I began working on was a trip to Afghanistan to spend time with the Taliban.
Then the inevitable follow-up: “I guess this means you’re going to be doing more studio work?
Once we were safely ensconced in our sleeping quarters, Salma and I pulled off the long black abayas and niqabs that covered our bodies and faces from view.