The 33-year-old artist’s latest exhibition was forced online after she faced threats over her work that featured some of the country’s powerful female figures.
High-profile women, including media workers, judges and activists, are among the more than 180 people who have been killed since September, violence that the US and Afghan governments blame on the Taliban.
“We are the minority who are fighting, raising our voices. By killing some of us, they will force the rest of us to remain silent,” he said of the insurgents.
“They are sending the message: ‘You have no place, if you want to do this they will kill you,'” he added.
Like most of her friends, she no longer follows any routine and has restricted her movements around the country.
“We keep telling each other that ‘okay, we have to stay alive’ because if we die, what’s the point?” she said.
The militants are waging a fiery offensive against Afghan forces, after peace talks between the warring parties broke down.
Last week, all US and NATO forces left Bagram Air Base near Kabul, the command center for operations against the Taliban, effectively concluding their departure after 20 years of military involvement in Afghanistan.
Reminiscent of Mexican feminist artist Frida Kahlo, Akbar is often captured in a crown, with heavy gold and silver jewelry prized by nomadic tribes in her self-portraits, while she is known for her stunning photos of everyday life in Afghanistan.
She has been behind a series of exhibitions celebrating International Women’s Day in Kabul’s former royal palaces.
Last year he used mannequins to portray exceptional figures such as a filmmaker, a soccer player and, under a pebble-covered gauze cloak, Rokhshana, a woman stoned by the Taliban for fleeing a forced marriage.
This year, she gave a virtual presentation of her Abarzanan show, Superwomen in English, which was broadcast to empty chairs set up in the Kabul museum.
One of the five sisters, including the head of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission, Shaharzad Akbar, has always been supported by her parents, a writer and a teacher.
Unusually for a single woman in Afghanistan, Akbar has lived alone for ten years in a Kabul apartment.
“(Afghanistan) is much more conservative now, in the past women had roles in society, in art, in the private sector … they enjoyed more freedom,” he said.
Everything changed with the arrival of the Mujahideen, whose fight against the 1979 Soviet invasion was financed by the Americans.
After the Soviets were driven out and civil war broke out, the Taliban established a foothold before seizing power and imposing one of the toughest regimes in the world, prohibiting women from education and work.
She says that women have often been portrayed as victims in the West, an attitude she is dedicated to changing.
“The history of Afghan women did not begin after 2001,” she says of the US-led invasion that toppled the Taliban.
“We have a long and rich past to which women have always contributed.”
She finds it “disrespectful” when the international community claims to be behind female empowerment in Afghanistan, and is frustrated that a modern Afghan woman is often measured for whether she can speak English and if she wears Western clothing.
“We are attacking our culture. It is another form of colonization,” he says.
Feeling betrayed by Washington’s withdrawal agreement with the Taliban, which saw the United States promise to leave the country in exchange for security guarantees, without insisting on the protection of human or women’s rights, she is losing hope.
Akbar, who only knew about the war in Afghanistan, says the deteriorating situation has had an impact on his mental health, concentration and creativity.
“I feel like I’m very close to death these days. Will I be alive tomorrow?”