I will never forget the first time that I voted for president. I woke up before sunrise, my mother fixed us breakfast, and we went to the school near our house to vote. I wanted to be first. I could not wait to make a decision for my future and vote for my president. The moment I put my vote in the box was the greatest moment of my life. I felt like a bird flying above the clouds.
Afterwards everyone was very proud to show off their fingers, which were still colored from the ink. For the first time in my life I tasted the sweet taste of democracy.
As a result of the election my country has improved a lot. For example, my mother never went to school, but now she goes to a literacy class. My mother says that she does not feel like a blind person anymore. She can read letters and she does not need to ask us to dial a number for her.
She has her own cellphone. She is only one example, but today women write, appear on TV, and speak on the radio. Many Afghan men trust in women’s abilities and will vote for women politicians.
Now we are ready to make another big decision for our country. I follow the news and it makes me happy to see how the candidates’ pictures are everywhere and people follow the debates on TV, radio, YouTube, and Facebook. People are talking about the candidates. For a country that did not even know thirteen years ago what their former leader Mullah Omar looked like, this is a big victory. Afghanistan today is not Afghanistan of thirteen years ago. We will never go back to those dark years.
As a woman and citizen, I want my future president to respect women’s rights and uphold equal rights for women under Article 22 of the constitution. I want my president to build a government free of corruption and inequality and to guarantee support for women’s participation in decision making, especially in the courts and cabinet.
Many of the problems Afghan women face today are because of inhuman tribal decisions against them. I want my president to stop the inhuman practices and punish those who make those cruel decisions. Over the last decade we lost many of our women. My future president must make women’s safety a top priority and implement and enforce the Anti-Violence Against Women Act. My president must respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and maintain a relationship with our international supporters.
The author currently lives abroad. Photo by Kevin Frayer.