Words by Nadia
“Only women can help save Afghanistan, women have made history, be one of them, Do not cower, you have the fighter’s blood in your veins, know that I may not be by your side all the time, make the future you proud of you, raise your voice when your rights are violated and roar like a lioness”
I was sitting beside my beloved father, who was spending his last days suffering from cancer before the Taliban’s invasion. His words still give me the strength to fight against the injustice imposed on men and women in Afghanistan. Women in particular are more vulnerable in Afghanistan’s misogynist society.
As a woman I have always faced barriers in all aspects of my life. Those barriers have made me stronger and have taught me how to tackle any problems that may arise in life. Since my father’s passing, I have seen tremendous change in my life. I started taking on more responsibilities, I became the breadwinner of my family and gave up any sort of activities that didn’t bring any value to me. I started reading more and disconnected from people. I thought that was an incredible way to cope with grief. I started volunteering with an orphanage and the orphans taught me a lot about how to cope with not having my father beside me. I taught them English and in return they taught me life lessons.
The worst day of my life was the day our teachers in Kabul University told us to go home and not come back until the security situation is better. I knew what they meant, I knew I would never have the same freedoms again. I sat in front of our classroom on the dusty floor with my best friend Maryam and asked what if the Taliban take over the government? They would kill us, they would hate me for being a feminist. I remember Maryam laughing at me for my vivid imagination. We petted the stray cat in the faculty and said goodbye to each other saying we will meet on Saturday, even if University is closed. On my way home I felt people staring at me and the books that I held close to my chest. It was a big marketing book we studied that semester. I thought maybe it’s because I am walking home late, or maybe because I am wearing green. People don’t like it. I was busy with such thoughts until I reached home. My mother opened the door and hugged me tight saying “Thank God you are home, DID YOU SEE ANY TALIB OUTSIDE?”
This question shocked me, I was left tongue tied. My jobs, my studies, my freedom, my identity…
I couldn’t sleep the entire night. My mind was preoccupied with doubts and fears about the future and everything I had achieved in the past couple of years.
Months passed by, more and more restrictions were implemented, I felt suffocated. The only thing we had for months was bread or mashed potatoes. I couldnt sit at home waiting for an angel to help save our lives, I hacked our neighbours wifi and started reaching out to people online for jobs. Our neighbours did not help us, female-led families are very looked down upon in Afghan communities.
Twitter was really helpful, I made a fake account to reach out to people online without risking my life. I found a great contact with an NGO who was helping people at risk of starvation and got a job.
I still cannot leave home due to not having a male companion but I am still trying my best to be positive and look for ways to help other women like me.