I am a girl who wants to improve my family’s life, my society, and my country. I want to make Afghanistan a better place to live and I am prepared to work very hard to make my dream of a better future come true. Girls and women are the future of Afghanistan and we can change our country with our hard work and knowledge.

When I see young children on our streets selling cigarettes and gum, polishing people’s shoes, cleaning cars, and begging instead of studying it makes me even more determined to stay in school. The future hope of a country is its children. When I see them I know from their eyes that they have no choice and I can picture their bleak future.

The biggest problem in Afghanistan is the financial one. Some families even sell a child so they can get enough food for their other children. I know it will take some time to make the country and the world a better place, but I will keep working for it. I want to become an obstetrician and decrease maternal mortality in Afghanistan and deliver healthy babies. I want to raise children who believe that girls and women are as valuable as boys and men.

When I have a daughter someday I want her to have all the things that I am fighting for myself today. I want her to be able to choose whatever she wants to study so that she can make a good life for herself. I want her to live in comfort, far away from bombs blasting, and I will encourage her to make her way in society by helping other people. 

She will be allowed to show off her talents. She will not be like a bird trapped in a cage.  I want her to ride a bicycle, drive a car, and work side by side with men.  I don’t want my daughter to wear a burqa. I want her to know her rights and learn how to stand up for herself against those who will try to deny her of her rights.

I want my daughter to know that she is never going to be bought or sold, and that she was not born just to cook and clean and produce babies. She will know that she has the right to have an interesting job in the same way that men do, and that no one has the right to beat her or abuse her.

She will be proud, because she will understand that she is no less valuable than a boy. I want my daughter to be known as a symbol of humanity and passion, not a symbol of violence and suffering.

I want to help the new generation of girls have easier and better lives.  Whenever I face big problems myself, it motivates me to remember that I don’t want my future daughter to suffer the same limitations I have to fight.

My favorite leader, Nelson Mandela, once said, “It always seems impossible until it is done.”  

But I believe that one day there will be peace in Afghanistan and our country will be open to the world and we will not identify ourselves as Muslims and Christians, white or black, rich and poor, women or men.  But we will need to work hard to educate our sons and daughters to come together to improve our world.

By Shogofa Az., age 19