I am not sure where to begin, but I am a 28-year-old woman who believed it was my duty to vote and choose a president. Now, I have things to ask of you. Mr. President, I want you to understand Afghan women and our pains. Please listen.

We are the forgotten people in our land.

I am a simple woman who began her life in pain: born as a girl, and therefore a second-class human. When I was to be married, I had no voice in deciding my future. I was sold for a price to a man twenty years older.

Later, I was divorced and began life alone in a world of pain and despair. I was labeled with a bad word and people said that I was a bad wife. It was not true. I had to fight back against such treatment, which came from people both inside and outside the government.

I fought back for my son. He needed a shoulder and he was pure and innocent. For his sake, I had to stand up against the violence and mistreatment that was directed toward me.

Now my son is eight years old, and like other Afghan mothers, I worry about the future of all our children in this land. What will happen to them if their mothers have no voice in our society?

My future president, I am not writing for myself, but just so that you will understand. There are more than a million Afghan women whose lives are much worse. They have no rights and no way to make their voices heard.

My requests are for all the people who live forgotten lives in this land. Please heed these simple words of pain.

Please establish an economic plan that allows women to provide for themselves so they are not forced to sell themselves to men.

Take care of our young people. They are the victims of government corruption that has left them unable to find jobs. Bring peace and security so our children are able to play, season after season. Enforce the laws so that there is equality for women and the poor. Bring justice! Build a government the people can lean on, like a child leans on his mother’s shoulders. Stop the killing, the terrorism, and the stonings. Punish the tyrants among our leaders whose only interests are power and wealth.

Please bring opportunities for poor children to obtain training and education. Be like a spring season for the oppressed Afghan people whose hearts have been frozen by tyranny.

Do this with your people and for your people so that your name will be immortal on the lips of your people. Be our champion!

By Nasima

Photos of Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai (by S.K. Vemmer) and Abdullah Abdullah (by Philippe Grangeaud).