Kabul – International Woman’s Day is a great step towards giving space to women to be happy for who they are. Using this platform, I would like to introduce a girl who has experienced a life that is common for most women of her country. It is my story.
As the eldest child, I was disciplined often for not doing what was expected of a girl. Every choice and action in my life required permission from different people in the family. Before my mother gave birth to my brother, I wanted to be like a boy. I wore boys’ clothes and cut my hair short like theirs. I used to play with boys and tried not to speak for fear they would discover I was not a boy. I saw how boys were always praised. Sometimes, my relatives would say that they wished I was a boy, since I was the eldest and everyone expected me to be a boy. My mother was the only one in the family who stood by me and protected me. She had been forced into a child marriage and was a victim of domestic violence.
When I was in primary school, I received top scores and top rank. When I showed my results at home, they said it is so unfortunate that a girl, who would only be her husband’s property, is doing so well, but our boys are not interested in studies. After graduating from school, I continued my education studying English literature. After graduating from university, I started working with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Afghanistan. I disagreed and refused to listen to those who said “after the degree, it’s marriage for a girl.” I immediately applied for my master’s degree. I had to work hard for this opportunity and convince my parents I could take care of myself. Today, with the support of JRS, I am pursuing my Master of Social Work at St. Joseph’s College in Bangalore, India.
I want to promise my country’s women that I will be there to support them, so that they can stand on their own feet. Last but not least, I want to take the opportunity to thank my mother and father, who lifted me up through all my challenges. Also, I would like to thank JRS for supporting and creating opportunities for girls around the world and especially for girls of Afghanistan.