Afghanistan has known war for almost four decades. Yes, decades—forty years—14,600 days. War has brought a lot of damage to our country, especially in terms of gender inequality, which has become a part of every Afghan woman’s life. Many women who suffered through all these years have now passed away, or are unable to express their thoughts about their experiences. Others tend to almost believe they are nothing but a piece of meat. I think it’s time to break through the gender stereotypes in Afghanistan.
Traditional thought among Afghan men has been that women are made only for the home and the family provider should be a man. But women should also be able do something to support their home and children. They should have the right to work in an office or at the very least, get an education. An estimated eighty percent of Afghan women are illiterate. This shows how much they have been underprivileged by our society, even denied the right to read and write.
I grew up in Almaty, Kazakhstan. I studied there through the ninth grade, and moved in 2009 to Kabul where I was shocked to see so many women suffering. Many women wear blue burqas and wait in the cold weather after getting ten Afghanis to buy bread for their children. This made my heart sink, and I asked myself, “Why should they suffer?’’
I believe that Afghan people create the stereotypes against women. But by educating both men and women, we can change the lives of people forever, especially those women who have suffered for decades because of stereotypes preventing them to live as human beings. If the Afghan government would take a closer look at the lives of women, they would want to help them. Unfortunately, the government has been blind for decades. Social awareness is another way to fight against stereotypes of women, especially in rural areas of Afghanistan where they are subjected to so much violence. We could live and breathe in peace without fears of being harassed or addressed as a slave to men who think they have the authority over women.
If more Afghan women were allowed by their husbands to go to school, they would not suffer or be punished in this cruel way. The media here should be enthusiastically assisting our country to make this place better to live for Afghan women. The world wants to know the reality of women’s lives in different places. In Afghanistan, a woman is not aware of her basic rights, and is thus threatened like an animal. Cases like Farkhunda’s, where a girl was burned to death, or Reza Gul, whose nose was cut off by her husband, reveal the dark side of our country.
Since moving to Kabul, I have decided to make a difference in Afghan women’s lives. I joined the Afghan Women’s Writing Project to express the ache of the discrimination and conditions of Afghan women.
I love the quote by the famous Maya Angelou, who once said, “I am a feminist. I’ve been female for a long time now. I’d be stupid not to be on my own side.’’ She is absolutely right.
I am feminist because I want to protect women’s rights, especially those living in rural areas of Afghanistan who are not aware of their basic rights. We should change the world. We should change Afghan people’s minds who think women are only made for the kitchen and raising children.
Educating both the men and women of Afghanistan through conducting workshops and seminars, and promoting women’s rights through TV and advertising, would finally make people more aware. We, the women of Afghanistan, are too fed up and tired to tolerate this treatment anymore. We want a change! Right here, right now!
Thank you for writing this wonderful essay. It is amazing to see how talented writer you are! I very much agree with you that education can change the current situation of Afghan women in Afghanistan. But I also think, what kind of education do we have in our country? How much do we learn about gender equality and human rights at schools? Nothing. There is a need to change our educational system too. At schools we learn that ” Paradise is under the feet of women” And we watch and see life of women in Afghanistan. I wonder is it paradise? Why it must be under our feet? Why we can not see it? Why we can not live in Paradise?
There is so much to change, here and right now!
I loved the lines that ended your essay. Good luck with your writings!
Sending you hugs and love
All real change begins in the mind. Essays like yours, Sweeta will help challenge people’s attitudes against Afghan women, and help foster new opinions and ideas that will create better conditions and opportunities for Afghan women. Sweeta, you are a passionate and talented writer. Thank you for sharing this inspiring piece. It is a privilege to work with you.
I am amazed by your essays dear Sweeta Jan. I keep reading your essays and it makes me feel really proud that we have such a bright and talented writer like you. You are the future generation of Afghanistan that helps rebuilding this war weary country.
Wooooow I’m speachles about ur essay. It’s so true and real histories. I’m shocked that u realise the women situation of our country in these six yeas. Keep it up sweeta.
I appreciate the way you reveal your feelings for women in Afghanistan.
Let’s see it from a different perspective. I agree that 4 decades of wars caused many sufferings to women in Afghanistan, but these gender stereotypes you are talking about exited long before wars. Gender stereotypes as a fact is a cultural phenomenon. So, it is traditionally dominated cultures that make women suffer.
If we claim that we can end gender stereotypes in Afghanistan, we are wrong. These stereotypes are visible in modern countries as well. If we claim that we help women to suffer less is a point which makes sense.
So, to help women suffer less, I agree with points you mentioned. Educating women, public awareness and importantly bring them into politics and public debates are solutions.
Good Luck for what you stand for
I also aggree with you. It is not possible to change the culture, though we can make effort to guide our country’s women to help themselves and to know their rights that is allowed to them by their law and religion.
Its my personal experience, i have had tolerated many trials to acquire education. Though by continous effort now i am gaining higher education through online institute, without breaking aparent imposed barriers on female education.a well said quote, ” its not what others did to you, its what you allowed to happen to you”.
I feel that a vast majority of the world is in the dark about all of these occurrences in Afghanistan, such as the story of Reza Gul. So many of these stories are being covered up, and I think that these problems are not being spread to not only Afghanistan, but the entire world. I think that your actions are extremely necessary, and that your essays are extremely inspiring and show people the ground reality of these horrors that you have explained in your essay.
As you mentioned above, I also do feel that education is an extremely powerful tool in enhancing the opinions of the people. Your essays definitely show the necessity of this reform in education, not only in Afghanistan, but all across the world, where people are blinded by stereotypes and misdirection by media and fail to recognize these acts of oppression. I do believe, however, that your essays will definitely be a game-changer in the way that people view the condition of Afghan women, and I think that I am definitely privileged to have been in a society where I could read your essays and learn from them.
Thank you so much for writing these essays. I wish you good luck for your future endeavors, and do hope that society, including myself, can begin to recognize and work together to abolish these stereotypes.
Thanks a lot, Dyartes