Editor’s note: These poems were written at a workshop in Jalalabad for AWWP’s participation in the 2014 Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender Violence global campaign.


Last night I had a dream…
A dream that was all
A dream
that made me happy.
I saw girls
and boys
walking together in a group in my school;

I saw my mom treating me and my brother
I saw my sister turn down her forced marriage.
When suddenly, I heard a voice.
It was my mother shouting, Wake Up!
Wake up! Wake up!
Make the food for your brother. He has to go to school.

And I realized nothing had changed.

By Tabasom J.


Streets of Nangarhar

While I walk in the streets of Nangarhar,
I see men looking at me — they are like animals.
I can hear them talking about parts of my body.
They are making fun of me.
For them it does not matter,
even if I wear a burqa; I am still just a girl to them.
If I wear a big scarf I am just a girl.
A girl to be used by men to make them happy.
A girl who doesn’t have the right to choose.
A girl who is not allowed to laugh out loud.
A girl who is not allowed to speak of pain;
if she does, she is a bad girl.
This is what gender equality means in my society.

By Tasala


Little Girl

I hear the voice of the four-year-old who was raped
I hear her cries and shouts for help.
She didn’t even know the world;
she didn’t know there were wild men in our society.
Was it her fault?
She was not asked in her mother’s womb if she
wanted to be a boy or a girl.
I ask God
Why did these men take her happiness from her?
Now she will know only pain and society’s blame.

By Mahjabeen


Women Take Your Rights

Gender equality is very important if a country is to develop. It is important for men and women to work together to improve our society. I know it is not easy for men to give women their rights and accept them as part of the society, when men have been dominant for three decades of war. But we do have rights. Rights are not given, but they are taken. Therefore, I tell women: be strong and work for your rights. Women are responsible for taking their rights back from men and showing men that their years of dominant rule have now ended.

By Freshta


Make Your World

I am a proud woman with power
I am the maker of men
I am the one who takes care of the boys
They are nothing without me
I am a woman who is the maker of all the world

By Tamana G.