Everywhere is dark for you, Advocate Banoo.
Why are you silent, as if you were dead?
You can get your rights by advocating for them,
so why do you remain silent?
Say to me, I sympathize with you, shed tears for you.
Say to me, I am afraid of the darkness, of the night without you.
I am like you, full of unspoken words and obsessions.
The mirrors have tired, looking for you, Advocate Banoo.
Why don’t you show them your face?
When you smile, the mirrors become happy.
Your sadness now permeates.
Tell me that you love, that you’re happy,
but not always. Don’t say you think about sorrow
and sadness. Don’t let anyone waste your wishes.
Advocate for your rights,
But do not dwell on the hardship you carry.
Do not let the barriers and limitations stop you.
Show your ability to those who think you’re weak.
You can go farther, be stronger.
Shout your achievements. Show your skills in action.
You have the power to remove injustice.
Go ahead and break down all those doors,
closed in front of you. Remove all customs
that harm women in our society. Join
the sun’s light and smile in the face of all sadness.
Oh! My dear Allah,
Come be with me all the time.
Experience my aches. Understand me.
Imagine yourself such a one as me—a girl who wants
to succeed in this society. Then you will know,
how difficult it is being a girl in today’s life.
Husn Banu Ghazanfar serves as the Minister of Women’s Affairs in Afghanistan. She is also a writer, a poet, and a speaker. Photo by Daniel Wilkinson.