All night before Election Day I was thinking about my candidate. I knew his plans and studied his biography and in the morning I walked to the polling center with my voting card and my young son. I didn’t want to go alone. I wanted my son to learn how to vote when he grows up.
I didn’t want him to be like me, where living in Iran as a child I dreamed of seeing my parents vote, but we were immigrants and they could not.
While walking with the crowd I remembered the last two elections and how this time I was free—free to vote for whomever I wanted. Fighting to reach this day has taken ten years for me.
When I arrived there was a long line: about 1,000 men and women. I stood with the women—old, young, pregnant, and disabled. No one asked how long they would have to wait. More and more women were coming, one, two, three at a time.
I felt their happiness when they cast their votes with honor and smiling faces and no concerns of insecurity. Every color, every tribe and race, old and young under a flag called Elections, they came to do their responsibility to their land and children. Yes, it was unity and integrity they signified. Pashtoon, Tajik, Hazara, or another race, the unity was vital.
In the moments while I waited to cast my vote, I saw no fraud. Some of the Herat provincial council candidates’ observers told some old, disabled women to move up in line but the other women in line said “No” because it would encourage them to vote in favor of the monitors’ candidate. I am happy that our people today are aware of how to prevent fraud. I waited three hours.
And after ten years of waiting I felt mountains of responsibility lifted from my shoulders. I felt free of all the violence that was done against me and there will be no further violence against me or against other women and girls such as forced and early marriage. I felt how women and girls would be free to go to school and participate in political processes.
Everyone said if we vote it is for our expectation that our future president will bring peace, rehabilitation, security, rule of law, fighting against violence and corruption. It was the unity that was so important for them. It was the people of Afghanistan coming together after three decades of war to elect their president.
At my home, only my brother and I voted. My other sisters and brother and my mother didn’t believe that voting will bring peace and rule of law and no corruption. We didn’t agree with them. In Afghanistan we must fight to reach our goals and the election is one opportunity for us to start a new way of fighting.
UN Photo/Eric Kanalstein
I am deeply inspired by your essay, Nasima. The hope and strength-of-heart, purpose shines through. I loved how you recalled different moments–especially the moment when others found ways to resist fraud. This was a long day coming–I am so glad that you were able to vote, and that your son was able to witness. May the outcome result in peace, justice for you and your countrypeople. Stacy
Nasima — This is a quietly powerful essay that speaks to your determination to vote as a “new way of fighting” for a better future. I love that you took your son so he would understand the process and see for himself how important it was. Your description of the people of all colors, ages, races and tribes allowed me to picture the scene and made it all the more real to me. Thank you for sharing your experience on this important, historic day. Nancy