Editor’s Note: Today, we continue our series “Honoring the Women of Afghanistan,” by posting the essay, “The Invisible Women of Afghanistan,” by the Pax Populi Scholar, Shogofa. She has been a steady, relentless advocate for the advancement of education for the girls and women of Afghanistan. Here she reflects on how the lack of education is a kind of darkness that keeps women stuck in a perpetual early and dark century in which woman are separate and invisible. Shogofa affirms that both men and women need education if Afghanistan is going to move beyond this long period of darkness and flourish.
Shogofa’s call, “Now it is time to change the conditions for women in Afghanistan — now it is time for educating Afghan women.,” reminds me of the extraordinarily powerful words of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in which he stated, “Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.”
Yes, for all those who care about Afghanistan, now is the time to put an end to the long night of war that has caused so much suffering to so many people. Instead, let us take the required steps to build a strong and beautiful Afghanistan by recognizing the equal value of men and women and their shared need for education.
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Today is International Women’s Day and I am thinking about women in Afghanistan and how they will celebrate this day. Will they get flowers and gifts from their husbands and sons because it is Women’s Day? Will any men appreciate their hard work? Although most women do not have access to work outside of their homes, their work should be appreciated for the beauty and value it brings to family life. But, I know that except for some educated women, most people in Afghanistan don’t know about International Women’s Day, and the contributions of women will go unappreciated.
Personally I wish all Afghan women a happy International Women’s Day and I am very proud of them. This is the day when people all over the world celebrate women’s achievements, politically, socially and economically. In some countries women are getting their rights and using these to bring positive changes to their countries and communities. Other countries, like Afghanistan, are lagging.
War in Afghanistan is like a big puzzle, and after so many years, it is getting hard to put all the pieces together, because we are forgetting that a big part of the solution is women’s education. Without it, there will be no equality of men and women and the puzzle will remain in pieces. If men and women work together, we can fix many of the problems that lead to war. But many oppose this, and so women not only have less access to education, they are afraid to gain knowledge.
Sadly, strangers will abuse the vulnerable women in Afghanistan who are still struggling and begging on the street. And still we do not know the value of women and keep them away from education and their rights. Our prolonged civil war and lack of education has made them invisible.
Now it is time to change the conditions for women in Afghanistan — now it is time for educating Afghan women. Let them stand beside men and help each other, because men and women are like two wings, only together can we fly. We should get up, see the world and learn from it. As long as we continue to fight and kill, we will still be living in the first century.
Afghan women have played very important roles in Afghan society as mothers, sisters, and wives: As mothers they raise their children and make them ready for society, as sisters, they hold the hands of their brothers and sisters to support them, and as wives, they stand by their husbands to make successful families. If we have successful families we can have a successful society and country. We will do this together, men and women, working to build Afghanistan.