I will tell you a story about Nadia, who lived in Uruzgan province. Her uncle did not let her attend school or go outside the home. When she was sixteen, he decided to marry her to a man who was thirty. Nadia knew that she had no choice, so she agreed.
When according to tradition the groom brought some gold for her, she took some of the gold and escaped, just before the wedding. She accepted the possibility that if her uncle found her, he would kill her.
Nadia was lucky because when she fled she met a woman in a car going to Kabul and she joined her. In Kabul she went first to a mosque and then she found a room with some university students. She worked at homes during the day and at night learned from her roommates how to read and write. She stayed strong in her aim and last year at age twenty-five she became a teacher in Daykundi province earning 10,000 Afg a year.
Could all the girls have the same future as Nadia if they could set a target and tolerate the harms of society? Could they tolerate the abuse and unknowingly join a world not in their control?
Not everyone can. In parts of Afghanistan, women believe they cannot be equal to men because they have always heard this. They have never had access to any information telling them women are equal. They marry and accept what their husbands decide.
In Kabul, there is a woman from the Ghazni province named Sharefa. She was forced to drink the water she used for washing clothes. She was not allowed to meet anyone. When my friends and I heard about this we decided to make a plan to meet her.
Finally we succeeded. When we met her last year we told her that we could help her to get out of that situation.
Sharefa told us, “I do not want it because I am a woman and it is a shame for me to complain about my husband and his family.”
Some women cannot even make any decisions themselves. When her husband dies his family will decide for her. It is largely a lack of education that causes women in Afghanistan not to be treated equally. But women have always been active in society, whether willingly or by force.
In Helmand province, girls are forced to marry at age ten, their talents suppressed by the uneducated. These girls can either tolerate their situation, or they can search for a way to change their lives.
If a girl decides to be strong and stand her ground, she will face lots of problems. But she may also succeed.
Today some women are angels in the sky of Afghanistan. They passed through the mountains by their feet, the oceans with their hands, and the deserts by their whole body. They used everything they had to reach for their dreams in the sky and now they shine like the stars.
These women are active in politics, sports, and social activities. Every one of these women should be encouraged and appreciated. All women need to believe that they can do what they wish. If these women don’t move themselves, Afghanistan will be like a hell for them. Women must change Afghanistan for themselves.
Hundreds of women in Kabul carry banners and chant slogans, calling for women’s rights to be respected, on Valentine’s Day, 2013. The march is part of the international One Billion Rising global campaign, set up by Vagina Monologues writer Eve Ensler, to protest against violence against women and girls.