Change Starts Here

registration line in herat

In 2002, when I arrived with my family back in Kabul after the ouster of the Taliban, the only colorful place we could talk and laugh was at home. The only places we could sing loud and sit in peace were the kitchen and bathroom.

For decades, women in Afghanistan have been brutalized, cut, beaten, burned, and killed for no reason. Girls are burned with acid, sold, kidnapped, raped, married off, impregnated at a young age, and at the end killed for no reason.

But nowadays I feel Afghanistan has changed, starting from the people up to the environment. We go to school without chadors. We work and share our voices in writing, and through art and dance. One day after my eighteenth birthday in September I got my voting card with no fear, and now I am ready to vote for the person I want to be the president.

But there are still places in Afghanistan where women get treated like animals. They can’t do anything by their choice. They live like the walking dead. But these women are able to vote and they want to vote. As far as I know, the voting system has become very complicated in the provinces like Kandahar, Helmand, Nooristan, and others. Most of the women get a voting card, but they don’t vote for the person they want. Their husbands or other male family members order the women whom to vote for. Such an order must be accepted or else it will cost them so much.

They don’t even know there is an international day for women on March 8. They don’t know there is something called a calendar. They don’t know that there is something called rights that belong to them.

But everything changes in time. Nights do pass and the sun does rise and we all are waiting for that sunshine to come and find us so that the entire world may know we are the bravest women in the world. We have survived the unbelievable because of our terrible past. I believe I am ready for a new Afghanistan.

By Aysha

Photo: Voter registration line in Herat on March 31, 2014. Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images


  1. Dear Aysha: You and your Afghan sisters and mothers are the bravest women in the world! I dare anyone to show me differently. I am so proud of you, and of your writing and witnessing and strong storytelling. In a short essay, you say so much. The pictures you paint in our heads are the kind that remain. Beautiful work. It is a pleasure and and education to read your writing. Stacy

    • Ghazala Tazmeen says:

      Dear Stacy,

      I have been through Ayesha’s writings and every writing is followed by your truly motivational and loving comments for her. Many thanks for inspiring such a strong soul who is daring to dream and is being an inspiration for many. Love xxx

  2. Aysha, the contrast you make between those who can vote freely and those women still suffering every day is strong! I hope some good candidates win in the elections. And I hope that the strength and wisdom of women finally triumphs. Love should conquer all! Courage, good friends, education, hard work and perseverance help.
    Thank you for sharing your story!

  3. Aysha, this is a truly astounding essay. Your words are so humbling and inspiring. You tell a story of painful and grave truths, but your words sound like they come from a place of such hope. You speak to your readers with amazing strength and courage. Thank you so much for your honesty and bravery, and also for sharing your art. This is a beautiful piece of writing. The whole world needs to hear your voice, and the voices of all the women of Afghanistan.

  4. Palwasha Mirbacha says:

    We are ready for the change, because some amazing blossoms like you are blooming into beautiful flowers and will turn this land into a beautiful garden.

  5. Kat Fitzpatrick says:

    “But everything changes in time. Nights do pass and the sun does rise and we all are waiting for that sunshine to come and find us so that the entire world may know we are the bravest women in the world.”
    I love, love, love these words!! Thank you for writing them!

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