I know a young woman named Nahid who is an example of a girl who believed in herself and is creating a good life for herself despite all the obstacles of traditional society. Nahid was born in Iran and graduated from high school there, but when she was 18 years old, her family returned to Afghanistan to settle in a small village in Bamiyan province.

She did not want to stay in the village because the traditions were stifling and she had hoped to return to Iran. She was in love with her cousin. She wanted to marry him, go back to Iran and study at a university and participate in society.

At age 18, Nahid was a beautiful girl. From an early age, her family received many offers of marriage. And then one day her father announced: “You are going to get engaged to Naser next week.”

Nahid was shocked. “Oh my God! Who is Naser? Why is my father doing this to me?” she asked herself. She had many more questions, but she also knew that with her grandfather behind the plan, there was little she could do to stop it. Her grandfather lived in the village and he was very traditional.

The time passed quickly and soon Nahid was engaged to marry Naser. Then came worse news: Naser had a serious problem with his hearing.

Nahid had visited him twice. She felt sorry for him because she could see that Naser loved her, and also that he had many problems in his life because of his hearing loss. Now she was depressed; she was afraid she would never reach her dreams or return to her to life in Iran and see her cousin Ali again. She wanted to continue her education, but she knew she would have to stay in the village with Naser. But although she was depressed, she decided she must try to make a life for herself.

After the marriage, Nahid pushed Naser’s family to get treatment for the hearing problem.  The family agreed and after treatment, he recovered a large part of his hearing.  Then he started in the eighth grade. Meanwhile, Nahid found a job for herself. As time passed, her new family came to love her and to believe in her abilities.

The young couple had a baby girl and they named her Monesa. Her birth rekindled Nahid’s  interest in life. Her husband was about to go on to get a university education and now she too hopes to start university.

I watched all these events unfold for Nahid, and I think she is an example of a woman who never stopped trying to create a good life for herself. She refused to abandon her dreams. She proves that even in remote areas with traditional culture, a woman can stand up and fight for a free voice.

By Arezu R.

Photo by Jonathan Narvey