We begin this New Year
Like the last
Amid poor security, bad sanitation, and economic woe

Children raise their hands
To their mouths
To warm frozen fingers with their own breath

Meals are no more
Than tea and bread

Young girls marry sixty-year-old men
Pregnant women hope their babies are not girls
Who will grow up to face their mothers’ struggles

But also, I see girls riding bicycles
Women participating in advocacy groups
Zara going to school
Sabzina at university

I see women who want to change their lives
to participate in society
to compete in sports
to learn to read and write
to decide how many children they will have

This gives me hope
Hope that 2016 will be a better year
Full of positive change

By Arezu

Photo by Laura’s Eye