This blog is by Narges (20) and Sima (19), two Afghan young women who are fighting for their rights and the rights of Afghan girls. They share their personal journey and the importance of investing in girls’ rights and education.
When girls and women lead, we have the power to make incredible change. In honor of International Day of the Girl, we are calling on you, the global community, to raise your voice for girls’ rights, no matter how old you are, or where you are from.
A difficult journey
Narges: My journey to England was treacherous. When the Taliban took control, our lives were shattered. Education and football, our sources of freedom, were taken away. It felt like the world had crumbled around us, leaving us powerless at home. Determined to escape, we gathered our belongings and set off for the capital. Fate had other plans, and we missed our flight. Scattered and hiding, we eventually reached Pakistan, where we anxiously waited in a hotel for a visa to a safe haven. The uncertainty weighed heavily on us, and the fear of returning to Afghanistan loomed large. Our journey came at a great cost. Some friends faced unimaginable challenges and couldn't make it to safety.
Sima: I used to be a mountaineer, but as a girl in Afghanistan, playing sports like boys was challenging. All sports were seen as activities for men in Afghanistan. But sports brought me joy and relaxation. We had plans to conquer the highest mountain in Afghanistan, but the fall of provinces in the country forced us to cancel.
Then, the haunting news of Kabul's fall and the Taliban's takeover cast a dark shadow. We felt trapped. Escaping Afghanistan became our only option. After facing countless challenges, I managed to leave. Leaving Kabul and our relatives behind was heart-wrenching, but we held onto hope for a brighter future elsewhere. Now, Denmark is our new home, and it brings a sense of solace. The constant fear has lifted, though starting anew comes with its own challenges. My education remains a concern. Sadly, I'm not allowed to attend university in Denmark, which is the most difficult aspect of living here for me.
The power of girls’ leadership
Khalida Popal is the former captain of the Afghanistan women’s national football team. She helped save Afghan girls and women football players from the Taliban and is a fierce advocate for the rights of girls, and players.
In the midst of darkness, Khalida was a beacon of hope. She helped girls like us leave Afghanistan and supported us throughout our journey. Her message ignited a spark of possibility. We owe a deep gratitude to Khalida, whose unwavering determination saved us. Khalida dedicated herself to supporting girls in the most challenging circumstances. She works tirelessly to ensure girls’ safety and well-being. She embodies the qualities of a true leader.
We had a chance to become refugees because Khalida raised her voice to help us. Now, we want to do the same.
We believe everyone can raise their voices to help girls and women. We believe this starts with education. When girls are given the opportunity to learn, they are empowered to break through barriers and achieve their dreams. Education equips girls with knowledge, skills, and confidence, enabling us to make informed decisions about our lives and our futures. It opens doors to new opportunities, broadens our horizons, and challenges societal norms. With education, girls can become agents of change, breaking cycles of poverty and inequality. We become powerful voices in their communities, advocating for their rights and shaping a more just and equitable world. The power of education for girls is transformative, unlocking our potential and paving the way for a brighter future for all.
We are excited to be part of the Feminist Network for Gender Transformative Education, a movement that is bringing together activists like us, along with civil society organisations, NGOs, funders and others to work together to ensure that all girls, and all learners, can access education that champions and centers gender equality.
A bright future
Narges: Inspired by Khalida, I now raise my voice for the rights of girls and women. The journey I took serves as a constant reminder to stand up for what is right. I want to help other girls in Afghanistan. I want to share their story. Girls are locked in rooms, no one is there to help. Girls and women are not allowed to work, study and participate in any social activities. The only way I can help them is to make the world know about my journey and their current situation.
Sima: When I'm climbing, I feel a surge of strength and exhilaration. It's a moment when my mind and body align, pushing me to overcome obstacles and reach new heights. The physical and mental challenges of climbing awaken a sense of determination within me, reminding me of the strength and resilience I possess.
The hope of freely and safely returning to those mountains burns brightly within me. The freedom and joy the mountains bring me are unparalleled. I long for the day when I can once again explore their majestic peaks, breathe in the crisp mountain air, and feel the exhilaration of conquering nature's wonders.
I am now actively involved with Girl Power, an organization that provides a sense of community and empowerment. Through working with Girl Power, I will continue to advocate for all girls to have the right to education and to their hopes and dreams. I hope they can access the freedom and empowerment climbing provides for me.