I am a child, but I passed my childhood in a dream,
a dream of going to school,
of returning to my own country,
of not being scorned for being Afghan.

I am a woman,
a woman who wants to know my rights,
a strong Afghan woman,
but always hated for being a woman.

I am a woman who wants freedom,
freedom is what I want,
for myself and my family and country.
But I have been told not to ask
for too much. I will lose my family.
I am a hated woman scorned.

I am a woman who cares about her country.
I am a woman who cares about her country,
but has been pushed down for it.
I am a Muslim woman.
I have been called a terrorist.
I am hated for being a Muslim woman.

Only my hope has matter.
For my country and my community,
this is my hope:
A country without war
where women are counted as human beings,
where peace lies in the soul of every Afghan,
where peace in parents’ hearts allows their children education,
and where children do not fear being blown up by a bomb on their way home.

I am a Muslim woman who knows the power of the feminine.
I want women not to be beaten, not to have parts of their bodies
cut, not to be raped. Not to be killed for loving a boy
or for making decisions.
I don’t want women to be forced to marry or stoned
to death. I want for them the same power as men,
education, and a chance
to contribute to the betterment of Afghan society.

I want to unite Afghans,
to take away the death sounds of bombs
that have become the music of Afghan life.
I want an Islamic, stable, and free Afghanistan.

By Zahra A.

Photo: Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images