A Letter to My Parents

When I was twelve years old, I had my first marriage proposal. The person was my aunt’s sixteen-year-old grandson. My parents were furious at the boy’s family because I was a child who didn’t know the meaning of marriage. In addition, I had three older sisters who were single and I was supposed to be the last in line.

When I was fourteen, another person asked my parents’ permission to propose to me. He was a rich twenty-four-year-old man. At that time, two of my sisters were married, although an older sister was still single.

At first, I was not concerned about this proposal because I thought my parents would deny this person the same way that they had denied the other one. However, I was wrong. This time, my parents not only liked the guy—they were also pleased by his wealth. As a result, I became worried my parents would accept the offer and I started to plan how to tell them I did not want to marry the person. In my family, it is disrespectful for a child to stand against the parents’ decisions. I was too shy to talk to my parents face-to-face. Instead, I decided to write the following letter:

My dear parents, please accept that I am not prepared to get married. I am fourteen years old and I need to find my life’s way. In order to do this, I must become educated. I need to have new experiences to become independent and to help my country’s women.

First, I know that you both want the best for me. You helped me to walk, talk, and eat, and while I was sick you stayed awake with me all night. I just want you to know that I don’t need a partner to take care of me. I can be independent and take care of myself.

Second, this is the best time for me to get a better education and learn new skills. You know that in Afghanistan we don’t have enough educated people. I feel this as my responsibility to get an education and help my people. For almost six years during the Taliban regime, the schools were closed for the girls.  Now that I have the opportunity to get my education, I want to use this opportunity. I want to travel to the other countries and study in a better system. I am like a bird in a cage, I want to fly to other countries and see new people with new cultures.

Third, today the women in Afghanistan are the poorest women in the world. They don’t have any rights, but in other countries, women have the same rights as men. The women in Afghanistan don’t have the right to choose, to work outside of their homes or to get an education. Most women in Afghanistan are punished and hit by their husbands or brothers if they don’t obey them. Dear parents, you know that women in Afghanistan need help to understand their rights. So I want to become a lawyer to know and understand their rights, and to fight this injustice. I don’t want to be one of these women; I want to help them.

My dear parents, you are angry with me because you think if I become a lawyer, I would be killed. But I cannot stop trying because of this. It is very important for me to finish my education successfully and help my country’s poor women.

At the end, I promise you that I will be an independent person and I will try my best to become an honest lawyer to fight for women’s rights. I will make you happy and proud if you let me do this.

Your daughter always,


After writing the letter, I placed it on my parents’ bed. That night I slept poorly; I was worried about my parents’ reactions and I was thinking about what other ways I might be able to change their minds if they rejected my letter. My sisters said nothing to me, but I felt they were not happy with me for writing the letter. Even though I was eager to know my parents’ reaction, I decided to go to school early and wait until after school when my father would be at work and I would see only my mother, since I am more open with my mom. When I returned from school, my mother’s smile showed she was proud of me. She told me she and my father would try their best to help me accomplish my goals.

As a result, after that I entered a program to study in the United States for one year and then I worked for women’s rights for two years. Now I am in college and getting closer to achieving my goals of receiving an education to help women in Afghanistan, and I’m becoming more independent every day. Until today, my father still talks about me writing that letter. I think he is proud and happy for what I did.

By Marzia


  1. Nancy Antle says:

    Excellent writing and a wonderful story of bravery — and finding inner strength. No wonder your parents are proud of you!

  2. Marzia,

    What a great essay and letter! You already write like a lawyer who wants to improve your world and help others with convincing arguments. I can see why your parents were persuaded. Thanks for showing us what good writing (yours!) did to change your life.

  3. great, u are doing a big job

  4. Dear Marzia,
    I am a professor of literature and creative writing, and I will be sharing your letter with my students today, to inspire them with your courage and intelligence.

    Thank you,

  5. Cathy Johnson says:

    Marzia–how you touched my heart with your story. I am a mother in the United States and my 21-year old daughter got married last summer. I understand the dilemma your parents were in because all parents want the very best for their children! You are brave and so are they! God bless you and your excellent choices.

  6. Tragic to know what is happening. Assure you that all this is against the qur’an. evidence cited here may open your eyes: Status of Woman: http://t.co/jBQKgAL

  7. Elisabeth Lehr says:

    This is so wonderful, Marzia. As you advance in your quest for knowledge, I look forward to you sharing with us discoveries and ideas that help guide you into the light that education brings to you.

    Love Elisabeth

  8. Tiffany Ann says:

    Marzia, this is wonderful. I am so happy for your success. I hope that you keep following your dreams and keep inspiring people. Never give up!!

  9. greg benson says:

    I loved your story. Its awesome you voiced your opinion and got a positive response. You are that much closer to acheiving your goals. Never give up and I believe you bravery and determination will get you where ever you want to go in life

  10. Ty Drost says:

    Marzia~ First of all I want to comment you on your writing ability. Second of all, I would like to congratulate you on your bravery. There are so many people here in the United States that couldn’t stand up to their parents if they were put in a situation like you were. Just imagine, if there were a lot more women like you, and I’m sure there are, your country could be start to change for the good instead of the bad. No matter what happens in your life Marzia, never give up on your writing. the more you write, the more you learn, and the more you learn, the stronger you will become.

  11. Adrienne Celt says:

    Marzia, as several other posters have said, this is quite an inspiring story, presented beautifully and eloquently. I look forward to reading this piece at the Afghan Women’s Writing Project performance in Arizona this spring! All of us working on the performance find your writing very moving.

  12. Achernahr says:

    Marzia Jan,
    You should break the ice, then you would be winner.

  13. This is a beautiful story. I’m so happy that your parents not only supported your decision, but were proud of you for your courage and your compassion. The world needs more people like you. I wish you nothing but the best.

  14. Aafareen Marzia. You are one of lucky girls who has the support of their lovely and understanding parents. Take it as their blessing, which you have already had, and fly as high as your heart desires. You are an exceptional example for those women who don’t dare to speak up. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story. And, good luck always.

  15. Daniela Gonzalez says:

    I love your history Marzia.. u know.. I just found this amazing web page and I am just so proud of u and all the women that have been writing on it… i send u a big hug!! by the way.. where are u now? did u get married? how is your life now..?

  16. Richelle McClain says:


    What an inspiring story! How lucky you are to have parents that support you, and how lucky they are to have such a brave and independent young woman for a daughter. I wish you the best as you pursue your dreams. Please continue your writing and let us know how you are growing as a person.

  17. Anne Marie says:


    This story nearly brought tears to my eyes! It was beautifully written. It shows how much strength you had, to speak your mind against the two people who meant the world to you. I have so much respect for you.

  18. Marzia,
    You have wonderful courage and strength. Wonderful parents who also are couragous. To be accomplishing a dream amongst adversity is wonderful. So many women in the united states let the smallest thing derail them from the priviledge of education and a dream they have. You are an example that anything is possible. Thank you.

  19. Marzia says:

    Hello everyone, this is Marzia.
    Thank you very much for your kind and encouraging comments. I need people like you to encourage me to achieve my goals. Now I am a junior in college. I am still single. I’m not thinking about getting married until I make sure that I have my education and I can find a person who has the same goals and can support me while I bring positive changes to Afghan women’s rights and lives.

  20. Loy Williams says:

    Dear Marzia,
    Thank you for your story of “The Letter” and what has happened with your and your family as a result of your courage. I am so impressed with your courage and determination and I expect that good things will happen for women in Afghanistan as a result of your example.

  21. Diane Faulkner says:

    Dear Marzia:

    I am very moved by your story. You write beautifully with great emotion. I feel you have so much to give the women of Afghanistan and the world. I am glad to join those encouraging you as you continue to work to achieve your goals.

  22. Mike Maroules says:

    I think you are wonderful and smart and I think your parents should be happy and proud of you and I am happy and proud of your parents for letting you live your dream. I wish nothing but the best for you and your family. Good luck and blessings in your journey!!!!

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