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My Hope for Afghan Women

Parwana Fayyaz urges President Obama and the US Senate to pass the International Violence Against Women Act, and shares her vision for a new Afghanistan—where women are empowered and free from violence.

"Although we are sometimes invisible, women too are traveling in this broken ship, and we are part of this land."

Parwana Fayyaz

Dear President Obama, Secretary Clinton, and members of Congress,

Two years ago, I was like a silkworm that depends on the tree’s leaves, that is busy whole nights and days knitting its silk.

Now I am a watchful butterfly. I am studying at the Asian University for Women in Bangladesh. I am working for a better life—for myself and for the women of Afghanistan.

I am Parwana Fayyaz, from Ghazni Province, known as the home of the Taliban. I have horrible memories of war in Afghanistan and still I see the same situation in my country. My Afghanistan is a broken ship. I want the world to know that, although we are sometimes invisible, women too are traveling in this broken ship, and we are part of this land.

I care about my fellow sisters. I care about the 5-year-old girls who fall victim to rapists. I care about the young girls who are kidnapped, whose bodies are found later, soaked in blood or burned with acid. I care about the wives with oppressive husbands. I want to raise my voice and let the world know that the situation for Afghan women is getting worse.

A man once asked me where I was from. When I answered, he said, “Do not joke with me, you are not an Afghan woman.”

I said, “Why not? Do Afghan women have a natural golden crown on their head, or do they look like monsters?”

“No,” he said. “I mean, I am shocked to see that being an Afghan woman, you are alive and walking on Bangladesh streets.”

I found his assumption both annoying and inspiring. I was part of this wilderness when the Taliban were shooting at us. I am still alive and I will make sure that every Afghan woman has a chance to live her life too, Inshallah.

Part of me is pleased that I am no longer among the women in Afghanistan who experience every kind of misery. I feel lucky that I don’t have to witness dead bodies of women on the streets of Kabul after an explosion.

Another part of me is worried that I am not there beside the women who kill themselves because they were raped, abused, or because they disobeyed the Taliban tradition. Why isn’t anyone there to take the oil and the lighter from their hands?

I have always feared revealing Afghan women’s secrets in a society where no one would understand or help me. Here in my school in Bangladesh I no longer feel fear or discouragement. I talk on behalf of Afghan women; I am their voice. I walk the path ahead of them and I watch the bright future of Afghanistan shine through their eyes.

My life changed as soon as I removed the dark curtain from my own wisdom. I am now working to change the situation for Afghan women. I am working to change my grandmothers’ fearful lives, my mother’s colorless life, my aunts’ unjust lives, and my cousins’ uneducated lives. It is time to walk past the male guards and free Afghan women from the cage of Old Afghanistan.

There is hope for Afghan women, but we will need help from other women around the world. We also need to hold on to our identity. We want the world to hear us that we are not ashamed to be Afghan women.

Today, I am like a butterfly opening my own wings. I feel the pure wind of the honest morning touching my whole body with joy and I can say the words of my mind and heart because I am no longer caged. I am free. I want every Afghan Woman to feel the same way I do. I want every Afghan woman to be empowered, to live her life, to work for her betterment, and to imagine a present and future life under the sky of Afghanistan.

Parwana Fayyaz
Ghazni Province, Afghanistan

About 16 Days Campaign

This letter is part of a special campaign to support the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA). Throughout the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence (November 25 - December 10), World Pulse is partnering with Women Thrive Worldwide to gather women's testimonies from around the world. These letters will be bundled and sent directly to US President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other key US senators, urging them to pass I-VAWA.


parwana fayyaz's picture

Thanks World Pulse,

Dear fellows and World pulse:
Today is the best day of my life. I have talked to the world's people through World Pulse about Afghan women and situation. And, they heard me patiently, felt me deeply, and will response me honestly.
Thanks World Pulse for opening a gate to a hope for the freedom and peace for Afghanistan and new and powerful partners for the Afghan women.

Farida Royesh's picture

Thanks for you

Thanks for being in this world and being simply wonderful. Thanks for listening to your inner truth and talking from your heart. Thanks for opening the gate to a better life.

Jensine's picture

Love Song

Dear Parwana -
This is a love song to your country. I am simply astounded by the power of your writing. I am left aching with longing for the future you dream of. Let us walk hand in hand with you to make it a reality. Keep writing your heart and the world will begin to wake up.
Love, Jensine Larsen,
World Pulse

Jensine Larsen
World Pulse

parwana fayyaz's picture

It is Heard By the World,

Dear Jensine:
I hope my piece of writing finds you well.
Thanks for the inspiring words in your mail. I am happy to hear from you about my writing.
After thinking a lot on Afghanistan's situation, I can up with the idea that Afghanistan will not be peaceful by armies, guns, bombs, rockets, ISAF, NATO, or other security organization, but with our arts and literatures. I am going to write about Afghanistan, Afghan women, Afghan men, Afghan children,Afghan animals, and even Afghanistan's nature that will awake the world to save my Afghanistan and leave it in Peace after decades of war. Enshallah:)
Bests and love
Parwana Fayyaz
AUW 090144

JT Long's picture

Thank You

Thank you for ringing the alarm with the most powerful voice of all - your voice. I am so glad that you are telling the stories that will help future generations find the peace and dignity they deserve. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

JT Long

telling stories; creating communities

Kim Crane's picture

Not alone

Dear Parwana,

Today is the holiday of Thanksgiving in the United States. It is a holiday to feel and express gratitude. I live a life filled with abundance and I have much to be grateful for. Today, rereading your letter, I feel especially grateful for the possibility of connection and solidarity across borders. I was so moved by your sentiment of wanting to be there for women considering suicide in Afghanistan. I too feel protective of my sisters struggling around the world. You are in Bangladesh, and yet you struggle on behalf women of Afghanistan. I live in the United States and I feel deeply connected to struggles of others in my own country and all over the world. When I read your letter, I am amazed that we can do this. That we have the ability to support each other and take action together, to join our voices so that together we can be heard by those in power—whether that is the US government or Afghan leaders. Your voice in this letter is so strong. I felt it reach me all the way over here in the United States. And it will reach far beyond me. I believe that your voice will soon reach the woman holding the lighter and the oil wondering if she can have a future. And for that I am so, so thankful.

parwana fayyaz's picture

You are with Us, we Believe:

Dear Kim:
I hope you are doing well. I am very pleased to hear your words in a very nice and touching way. I thank you for your kindness and greatness feelings you have inside. I was alone, now I have my women fellows around me and I believe that they will help and protect me in this way.
You are right, even I am in Bangladesh,still I feel my Afghan mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, and grandmothers' sufferings. Honestly, I can hear their hard breathing, and I can feel their harsh pain even more easily being far from them in Bangladesh, Here I feel peace and then I remember other Afghan women are suffering in Afghanistan, I feel more sad. Because now I feel, understand, and know the difference between the peaceful life and violent life. I am going to talk with the Afghan leaders as well by my writing in the very near future, Enshallah:)
Bests and Love
Parwana Fayyaz

sunita.basnet's picture

Go girl go!

Hey Parwana,

You made me proud to be your sister at AUW. Go girl go!
Do you remember our last talks with related with Afghan girl. I need to talk with you guys. Let me know when you are free.

Love you sis
Sunita Didi

With Love and Regards
Sunita Basnet

Dearest Dedi Sunita:
I am really happy to get your comment. Thanks:
I am also proud of you, thanks.
I will be very happy to be one of your listener, and getting the best suggestions from you.
Bests and love
Parwana Fayyaz

Farida Royesh's picture

Butterfly from Afghan Garden

Parwana jan,

You know what does "Parwana" means in Dari literature:" Butterfly"
You know what does"jan" means: "My soul"

Your soul is a butterfly; who freely flies around our souls and calls us for hope, change and development.

Your powerful vision of HOPE have been one source of inspiration besides other valuabe sources of knowledge and wisdom at Asian University for Women. This is simply how your soul challengs our souls to become more conscious thus strive for a more meanful life. A soul will join another soul and they will call for a unit soul for the rest of human societies.

Don't forget that we, not only your Afghan sisters but also other members of AUW community, are hoping and looking for your soul to achieve inner developement and community developement.

Also, remember Paulo Coelho and The Alchemist: " When we love, we stive to become better than we are; When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too."

Love your Love for Love, not only for Afghanistan but also for a greater human society.
You can do that.

parwana fayyaz's picture

Thanks Farida jan:

Dear Farida:
I am happy to read your comment, thanks.
Yeah, my name means butterfly, but I have gotten my real soul from watching and helping a breathless butterfly. This is Life and live.
Bests and love
Parwana Fayyaz

Daydri's picture

moving, inspiring,strong

thank you

with you
in transformation,

parwana fayyaz's picture

Dear Friend Daydri:

Thanks for giving me more hope, inspiration, and believe in the path to the future life in Afghanistan.
Thanks :) Parwana

parwana fayyaz's picture

Dear Friend Daydri:

Thanks for giving me more hope, inspiration, and believe in the path to the future life in Afghanistan.
Thanks :) Parwana

Shekofa.Muhebbi's picture

you are really wonderful

It is really nice,
we will do something....

parwana fayyaz's picture

We will,

Dearest friend Shekofa;
Now, IN Afghanistan, Every individual has the responsibility for playing his or her best part in a correct way. However TOGETHER we can hollow the roots of discrimination in the society of AFGHANISTAN.
Thanks, Loves, and bests

Zaisho's picture

Your Voice of Freedom & Love

Dearest Parwana jan,

Your Voice of Freedom & Love has reached my heart of hearts. I have wanted to hear the voice of the Afghan woman. To hear what she wants for her future, and the future of the world.
You are Amazing my Dear Sister in the Spirit of all Good of the World. I am so very inspired by what you have shared in your letter, the truth of what you have seen, witnessed and lived your whole life is so very tragic and real. For you to lift up your face and your voice and to speak on the real genuine truths, brings tears to my eyes, and great sorrow to my heart, & at the same time happy tears and joy to my heart that you are being heard here in my home by me. I want so badly to stop all these things that you have witnessed and written about here in your letter, and bring peace to the women of the world so that they may feel the Sun Shine on their faces as they lift them up, unafraid and living their lives in a more just world.

I have been in deep prayer for your soul, and the souls of your family, for they are my family too. My children don't have those kind of sorrows in their lives, and i have tried to educate them on what is happening in the world at large.

I love what you wrote
"I am like a butterfly opening my own wings. I feel the pure wind of the honest morning touching my whole body with joy and I can say the words of my mind and heart because I am no longer caged. I am free. I want every Afghan Woman to feel the same way I do. I want every Afghan woman to be empowered, to live her life, to work for her betterment, and to imagine a present and future life under the sky of Afghanistan."

You are have a beautiful soul keep the Faith there is hope~

Many Blessings to you with Creative Love & Light,
Lisa Bull

"Don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold / your own myth...." -- Rumi

"Illuminating the Light of Peace..." --LAMB

Dearest Zaisho:
I hope that you are fine and have started a joyful days in the New Year, 2011. Thanks for your moving words through your comment on this piece of writing. We, Afghan people, are really tried of war, then foreign forces, then discrimination, then hatred, and then the dead result of these all. This time, I am going to start from Hope through these writings, which will show to people that how much we have suffered and we are not able to suffer anymore inside war torn country like Afghanistan.

And if I have sisters beside my work, like you, I am sure that I can do it. Thanks a lot from your precious words for me.

Bests, loves, and blesses
Parwana Fayyaz

Fardosa Muse's picture

it's very impressive words

it's very impressive words gal !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.
Dear Parwana,
you letter touch my tender heart,i'm glade to you for raising voice of voiless women in afqan.may God bring hope for them .inshaallah.

Every One, Every Day ,Every Way, Prevent Vi0lenCE AgainST W0men On YouR Way!

parwana fayyaz's picture

Thanks dear Fardosa:)

Dear Fardosa:
Your name is so meaningful, I like it as well as your expressed words on my letter, Thanks dearest friend.
I am myself a hope for Afghanistan, I believe it. Thanks
Bests and loves
Parwana Fayyaz

ccontreras's picture

Truly Inspirational!

Hi Parwana,
Your letter is amazing, I am very touched and inspired by your story. Thank you for sharing it with me. I feel like I know a little more about what you have gone through. :-)

"I embrace emerging experience. I am a butterfly. Not a butterfly collector." - Stafford

Farnoosh Fathi's picture

Dear Parwana, Your letter is

Dear Parwana,

Your letter is so eloquent and powerful, moving and brave.



Farnoosh Fathi

parwana fayyaz's picture

Dear Farnoosh jan:

Thank you so much for your note. This letter gave me a clear vision for being a writer.
This was the start up of a new world toward beloved destiny.
Bests and blessing,
Parwana Fayyaz
"Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart." Rumi

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