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My Story

We asked our online community of grassroots women leaders from 190 countries to submit their true stories about a time they took a stand on an issue they care about. This story is a selection of a few of the most powerful pieces.

Read all the inspiring submissions, and stay tuned for an announcement about next year's My Story contest.

Click here to read all the powerful submissions.

My Story: Standing Up


© Ralf Kayser

"I became the first mother to file a complaint under the act that bans sex determination tests during pregnancy in India."

Mitukhurana | India


Standing Up for My Daughters

I was in the 6th week of pregnancy when an ultrasound showed that I was carrying twins. My mother-in-law and husband demanded a sex determination test to know the gender of my babies. They tortured me so that I would get it done.

When I still resisted, they fed me eggs, knowing that I was horribly allergic. They took me to the hospital where I was admitted to the labor room. The gynecologist advised a kidney and bladder ultrasound, but the radiologist conducted a fetal ultrasound instead. The ultrasound delivered the news that my babies were female. This is not what my family wanted to hear.

My mother-in-law asked me to at least have one child killed in-utero. She told me that my two daughters would be a huge burden on the family and that abortion was the only way.

They continued to torture me. On 17 May 2005, after a bout of abuse, I was close to miscarrying. They shut me up in the room without food or water. I managed to call my father in the morning. After much persuasion, my husband agreed to bring me to my parents’ home.

Due to all the tension, I delivered two pre-term daughters on 11 August. Even after the birth of my children, I suffered verbal abuse and I had no help in caring for my babies. My mother-in-law deliberately pushed my 4-month-old daughter down the staircase and pretended it was an accident. The children’s paternal grandparents and aunts rejected them totally. My husband turned me out of the house so he could remarry and have sons.

I have filed a case under the act that bans sex determination tests during pregnancy in India. In doing this I became the first mother to file a complaint under the act. I faced a lot of harassment, but I also saved my two daughters—and for that, I am happy.

Mitukhurana | India

Afrikan Goddess

Pictures of Our Ugliness!

“Make sure you take lots of interesting pictures!” That was what my boss requested of me when I sought his permission for a leave of absence to attend my sister’s wedding in Ghana.

It seemed like an innocent request, so I gladly obliged. I was going to take pictures anyway; he didn’t really have to ask.

Two days before my departure, however, my boss repeated his request, this time with exact descriptions of what he expected to see: potholes, pot-bellied children, mud huts, and village people. This was the Africa he knew. This was the Africa he had seen and heard about in the news. This was the Africa he saw when he looked at me, his capable assistant. If I was surprised and offended, I did not show it. After all, he was paying my salary, and he could not possibly mean those things in all seriousness.

Nevertheless, four days later, I found myself taking pictures of the very nature of which my boss requested. I saw the beauty right before my eyes in this place I called home, and yet there I was snapping away in shameless betrayal at every uncovered drain that spewed rubbish. In a part of the city where I accompanied my sister to get her dress hemmed, I found myself taking pictures of slum children. They were my boss’s exact description, and they gladly posed for my lenses. It was not all bad, however. I also found time to take pictures of much of our beauty, including the church where my sister got married, and the beautiful hotel garden where she held her reception.

A few days before my return to the US, we were going through the pictures when my mother asked, “Why are there so many pictures of ‘our ugliness?’” I felt unquestionable shame. This was my home, and I had taken pictures that would help feed my boss’s ignorance of a country he knew nothing about! I was enforcing a stereotype I knew he must have of me too, and by feeding this stereotype I was degrading myself, and the country I love.

Those pictures never made it across the ocean.

Back at the office, I proudly showed off the pictures of my beautiful country. I was also inspired by this experience to educate people like my boss. I started Afrikan Goddess Online, a publication for African women. The publication focuses on our beauty, not our ugliness.

Afrikan Goddess | US/Ghana

 . . .


nusrat1977's picture

I am proud of you!

Rabia, I am so proud of you. I feel, such a law in any country is highly humiliating and insulting to every woman. I am so glad that you both sisters risked your lives on a freezing morning for all of us and you were successful. May God bless you immensely for that.

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. ..........Hellen Keller

Huma's picture

For Rabia and Mahe Jabeen

Rabia what you did was so courageous and so brave! I'm really proud of you! You helped change the course of history, you're amazing!

Mahe Jabeen, wow. I cannot believe the audacity of that man. I am glad you stood up to him, and stood up for the rest of us. Such hatred against a natural phenomena that ALL women have to face is ridiculous. If anything they should be appreciative of the pain we have to go through! Congratulations on your achievements.

Girls will one day rule the world.

Huma's picture

For Chibairo and Nipo

Chibairo, you made me laugh with your courage and bravery! Standing up to verbal abuse is just as hard as standing up to physical abuse, and you are a hero! I'm glad you're safe from the policeman, and I'm glad you had help! It just goes to show you that there are only a few rotten people in the world, the rest are advocates for equality ! Well done!

Nipo, I'm so glad you helped that woman with the veil. We have to help each other, regardless of whether we're dripping in sweat or even if there isn't any space to stand. I'm so glad you did that, it gives me peace of mind to know that she was helped by someone, and YOU'RE the one who helped her, I thank you and I salute you!

Girls will one day rule the world.

Nipo's picture

Thank you HUMA!

I am honored by your salute and the courage to help others wouldn't be there if there were many others women like me supported me. Like you I also believe we have help each other. Your respect and comment is like courage for standing for ourselves.

Thanks a lot.



All of you are so inspirational.... I'm just a student at school having trouble studying for my courses. Reading your stories inspired me so much. You have faced such difficult situations and have survived. You truly inspire me. I'm glad all of you are well and that you're doing all you can to change the world you live in.
Girls will one day rule the world.

nilima's picture


Inspiring stories, leadership doesn't mean that you have to lead all alone, contributing from a grassroots level even with the small voice brings the change.

Thank you world pulse, this is the beautiful topic to hear the stories.

Kevii_kur's picture

Womens rights

In this article, a young woman, Rabia Salihi, and her sister had went to the Khatam-un-Nabiyeen, a religious university that was led by Sheikh Asif Mohsini, a politician ruler that had come up with a law that most women were against, to protest against this new rule. The law stated that women had to desire all of their husbands wants and if they were violated by another man he could just pay the family money and not be punished for the crime. I find this very unfair because women don't have the opportunity to speak up and refuse, basically they are forced upon this rule. Rabia found this rule very unfair also, which is why she stood up for the protest. Both her sister and herself faced harsh treatment and violence, but in the end it was all worth it because they were able to convince the Parliament to repeal the law.
Events like this happen very often, women are always discriminized and their rights are always violated. Rabia and her sister not only saved the women and young girls around them, but also the women of future generations, they showed that it is possible for women to have their voice heard and all the struggle is worth it. Also, other people should be informed about this harsh treatment so situations like this can be prevented. People need to stop underestimating women and their skills, they're more capable of things than they seem to be. I am a very big supporter of Rabia and her sister for their protest and their fight for the protection of womens' rights, they have saved many people without realizing and action like this should be followed to continue the protection of women's rights.

zarha.saifey's picture

Afrikan Goddess

Dear friend,

To me stereotypes are just like genocide. In e both cases, we are killing individuals' existence. Unfortunately, media has had a big role in creating stereotypes and false images. My country, Afghanistan, is one of the victims of stereotypes too. I had been far from my country for my entire life and I was scared to visit my hometown because what I had seen from media was just a war torn country full of ruins. However, going back to my country after almost 20 years, I found it destroyed but full of happiness and hope. That is why I started taking picture from different parts of Afghanistan and posting them on Facebook so to surprise my friends.
Even though Africa or Afghanistan or any other poor country may have of slum areas and "unpleasant" sights, I'm sure, there is beauty hidden there.
I'm happy that you are proud of who you are.

Zahra from Afghanistan

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