Community Update

World Pulse Toolkits Available!

At World Pulse, we recognize the need for ongoing learning—for you and for your community! Our toolkits are all available here.

We are especially excited to share our signature Citizen Journalism and Digital Empowerment Curriculum. Start learning today!

A Letter to Fathers of Afghan Daughters

TO: Fathers of Afghan Daughters
FROM: An Afghan Daughter

Dear Fathers:
I was so saddened to read the BBC news story about an Afghan mother who was killed for giving birth to a third daughter.
In an article released by edition.cnn.com on February 1, 2012 which shows the CNN.com International report: “In the second quarter of last year [2011], the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission registered 1,026 cases of violence against women. In 2010, it recorded 2,700 cases.” These numbers underestimate the problem, because violence, in villages, is not recorded. And there are many more cases, unseen by the media, where Afghan daughters have been killed for small mistakes or simply for being born.
Fathers, I want you to know that there is no shame in having daughters. In fact, so many international studies show that if you nurture and educate the daughters in a society, they will grow into women who will help their families, communities, and country, move forward to find peace, stability, health, and economic development. If you give your daughters an education and give them the opportunity to learn to think freely and critically and to find their voices, they too will turn into women who can use their abilities and knowledge to improve the situation for their families and for Afghanistan. They will help Afghanistan imagine a different future beyond today’s reality. Today, most of Afghan women do feel shame for being daughters because they have been treated only as suppressed women at homes, schools, streets, and even work places. Let the fear, shame, and guilt that your daughters feel for being Afghan women fall away and give them freedom to first hope for and then work for a better Afghanistan. Do not kill them; rather, let them fly. Do not be ashamed of them but rather be proud.
Let me offer just one example – my own. With my Father’s support, I left the instability of Afghanistan and the dust of Kabul’s roads in August 2009 to study at the Asian University for Women (AUW), a liberal arts college for women located in Bangladesh. I studied politics, literature, history, poetry, philosophy, mathematics and photography and I found my voice and my passion as a writer and photographer. My professors and advisors came from all over the world. They encouraged me and taught me to believe in myself. They saw my hopes through my eyes and taught me to be proud to be an Afghan daughter and woman with my own unique voice, talent, and glittering eyes. I began to love learning and to find joy in each day. Now I know that no challenge is insurmountable and change is possible. I want every Afghan daughter to be nurtured and educated in ways that make them proud to be Afghans.
During the summer of 2011, I spent a month at Stanford University in the U.S. with two dozen of my university colleagues in a program aimed at developing our thinking about leadership. I learned about history, democracy, politics, and feminism. We discussed ideas, compared our experiences, and discovered a world beyond our imaginations. We walked freely on campus and we walked alone or together-- as we chose. We met many strong women, especially Dr. Condoleezza Rice, who made us feel proud of our education and our womanhood and inspired us to work not only for our families and our countries, but for the world. In that month at Stanford, we had real minds to think, our own hearts to beat, and joy in our voices.
On my first day home, my Father asked me what I had learned from the “Sar-Zamini Azadi Farhang Jaded” – the land of freedom and new traditions. I told him about Condoleezza Rice’s speech about the importance of women’s education and empowerment and I shared my learning about feminism with him. He had never before heard about feminism, but I explained to him, “Father, you are a feminist because you want me to be equal to my brothers as an educated and free woman.”
Imagine the difference all fathers of Afghan daughters can make for their daughters and for Afghanistan if they allow their daughters to become educated and self-confident women. Please Fathers, educate your daughters. They are Afghanistan’s greatest hope for a better future.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future a program of World Pulse that provides rigorous new media and citizen journalism training for grassroots women leaders. World Pulse lifts and unites the voices of women from some of the most unheard regions of the world.

Comments

amiesissoho's picture

Dear Parwana, An apt letter

Dear Parwana,

An apt letter for all fathers indeed. It is a very diplomatic way of saying stop gender discrimination and son preference over daughters. Moreover, girls have right to education and to participate in pubic life. Thanks for saying it the way it could be heard and understood in your context.

Amie

parwana fayyaz's picture

Dear Amie:

Thank you so much for your words. This letter is filled with very simple words that only a daughter can write to her father, which conveys love, hope, asking for help, and [maybe] in advising tone. At first, I wanted to write about how to start negotiation with Taliban in remote areas of Afghanistan, but I was given a glimpse by inspiration to another way of approaching toward problems in Afghanistan by requesting or begging to father of Afghan daughters to free daughters [women] from the cage of beliefs and culture. Therefore, I wrote this letter to fathers of Afghan daughters. I hope, every Afghan father gets to read it.
Thanks,
Best regards
Parwana Fayyaz
Come, Come, Whoever You Are
Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn't matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow
a thousand times
Come, yet again, come, come. Mulana Rumi

Sakina Roshan's picture

This is what we need!

Dear Parwana as one of your fan, I realized that your ideas on such issue are great and the way you've chosen to fight it is awsome and i like it the most. You can be an inspiring personality for the rest of Afghan families who don't let their daughers to get education. I know a lot of girls like you are out for education but they don't have the same inspiring personality like you.
Wish you success and strenght sister!
Best
Roshan

parwana fayyaz's picture

Dear Sakina Jan:

As always, I am here to give you a bow of gratitude for being my fan, my Afghan sister, and a good reader.
Everyone has their own way of fighting toward injustice, some with writings, others with taking actions. I love writing as an action toward change, and it is my best way of contributing to our Afghanistan by communicating to the world, Afghans, and youths through my writings. I hope, you can meet the other inspiring personalities as well.
Thanks,
Best regards
Parwana Fayyaz
Come, Come, Whoever You Are
Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn't matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow
a thousand times
Come, yet again, come, come. Mulana Rumi

mirette's picture

Parwana, your words touched

Parwana, your words touched my heart and soul. I love your poetic style, and I could relate so much to your metaphor "Do not kill them; rather, let them fly"

I wish all the women who live in oppressive societies be able to break free like you did, and to teach these societies that without them, the women, a society is dead!

May your hopes for Afghanistan come true,
Mirette

parwana fayyaz's picture

Dear Mirette:

Thank you so much for your note. I am glad that you got to read this piece. Humans' need for reaching to human's level is a good and supportive guidance for becoming good people. Women need supportive fathers, brothers, and other women. And at the first step, women need voice to ask their fathers to be good fathers. My hope is becoming true for Afghanistan everyday, as I learn the importance of my voice as an Afghan daughter.
Thanks
Bests
Parwana Fayyaz
Come, Come, Whoever You Are
Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn't matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow
a thousand times
Come, yet again, come, come. Mulana Rumi

Monica Clarke's picture

Wow!

Your words moved me. I cannot imagine how fathers who read this can ignore your beautiful, poignant plea. Your writing is brilliant. May your dream of a bright future for all girls in Afghanistan become a reality in your lifetime, dear Parwana.

Love and hugs from Monica in France

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

parwana fayyaz's picture

Dear Monica:

Thank you so much for your prayers and words. I hope everyone can get to know a daughter's plea for her father, particularly those who have doubts on women's voices.
Thanks,
Best regards
Parwana Fayyaz
Come, Come, Whoever You Are
Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn't matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow
a thousand times
Come, yet again, come, come. Mulana Rumi

Stella Paul's picture

Something new, though sad

Dear Parwana

Sometimes, we are so busy reading the headlines, we don't have time to read the inner pages. I have been obsessively following the political developments in Afghanistan and I didn't know there were issues like female infanticide there. Thanks for bringing this up. I learned something new, though sad, today!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

parwana fayyaz's picture

Dear Stella:

Thank you so much for your note. Anything written by words through a powerful voice should not sound "sad" anymore for the incident that happens in countries, but the rest of the piece and its consequence should give us a glimpse of gratification and gratitude. Female infanticide is rooted in most of Asians' histories, even in religious rituals for centuries. I wonder, why did it make you "sad" for happening in Afghanistan?
Thanks,
Best regards,
Parwana Fayyaz

malba66's picture

Dear Parwana, I was very

Dear Parwana,

I was very moved by your piece-- for many reasons. Thank you for bringing the issue of female infanticide to this forum, and for being so courageous, tender and sharp in your delivery of this message.

Your father reminds me of my father. We are blessed!

Thank you,
Mari

parwana fayyaz's picture

Dear Mari:

Thanks for your comment, I am glad my tiny letter reminded you of your father and made us feel being blessed by them.
Every woman needs a wise father and a strong mother for becoming voice for the rest of other women and humans around the world. And we are the two of them.
Thanks
Bests
Parwana Fayyaz
Come, Come, Whoever You Are
Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn't matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow
a thousand times
Come, yet again, come, come. Mulana Rumi

BlueSky's picture

Deeply Touched

Thank you Parwana, I too pray all the fathers read your letter. This expression of your heart will touch theirs deeply.

parwana fayyaz's picture

Dear BlueSky:

Thank you so much, I hope too that every father gets to know that their daughters need their support for becoming empowered women.
Thanks
Bests
Parwana Fayyaz
Come, Come, Whoever You Are
Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn't matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow
a thousand times
Come, yet again, come, come. Mulana Rumi

noreens's picture

Hi Parwana, This is so

Hi Parwana,

This is so touching. I love this line: “Father, you are a feminist because you want me to be equal to my brothers as an educated and free woman.” You're lucky to have a father who believes in you and did not stand in the way of your personal growth as a woman. I hope all Afghan fathers will read your letter and learn from it. Good job! By the way, you write so nicely!

Noreen

parwana fayyaz's picture

Dear Noreen:

Thank you so much for your note. We are all lucky in a way, which leads us to success, voice, and freedom. I might be in this case, also writing letters are very ancient way of transforming ideas into actions and directions. I am doing it now, enshallah. Also there is a quote by Italo Calvino that, “Everything can change, but not the language that we carry inside us, like a world more exclusive and final than one's mother's womb.” For now, I believe on his words.
Thanks,
Parwana Fayyaz

ikirimat's picture

I love your letter, I wish

I love your letter, I wish every father could read it. Thank you for this touching letter
Just keep on writing , keep shouting , your voice will be HEARD

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."


parwana fayyaz's picture

Dear Ikirimat:

Thank you so much for your comment. This is all about writing, expressing, and telling the truth in a peaceful way. Shouting comes before writing, writing is the a silence response to shouting, hollering, and whine.
Thanks,
Parwana Fayyaz

Jocelynbrazil's picture

Wonderful piece

Parwana,
I was moved and inspired by your writing. Not only was the power of your voice enduring and captivating, but the content of what you wrote bridged both the universal and the personal.
I am so excited to continue to read your work!
-Jocelyn

parwana fayyaz's picture

Dear Jocelyn:

Thank you so much Jocelyn. Rumi says to you and me and everyone in the world, who are breathing like us that, You were born with potential, you were born with goodness and trust, you were born with ideals and dream, you were born with greatness, you were born with wings,you are not meant for crawling, so don't, You have wings, Learn to use them and fly." All human race are connected deeply in a invisible knotted point, we can not see it, but we feel it, if we think of ourselves being confined and conjoined in an universe. We are not only persons but residences of this universe, individuality comes first but in terms of understanding oneself for connecting to a larger universe.
Thanks,
Parwana Fayyaz

EllenWingard's picture

Your healing voice

Dear Parwana,

You speak with the wisdom of elders-that at the root of healing violence is releasing shame -- and experiencing the pride of being the father of a daughter. Your beautiful piece speaks to that healing in the presence of your father and all that he has taught you about being as free as the butterfly to seek wisdom, education, learning and discovery. Through you, he is healed too. Thank you for bringing to light this moving piece that will raise awareness and bring healing to the next generation of women. Dear Parwana, you also write with an understanding of our deep humanity and the joy that comes from liberating the hearts and souls of others.

May your soul be happy, journey joyfully. - Rumi

Thank you for bringing so much inspiration to us all!
Ellen

parwana fayyaz's picture

Dear Ellen:

Rumi also says that, "Be grateful for whomever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond." This quote connects us to the acceptance of any problems coming in sudden for challenging us. I had very hard time deciding to write an op-ed, and "a guide from beyond" bounded my ideas on writing a letter to fathers. I am growing each day with the "love of learning" and "dreaming big dreams" because life sounds empty without any melody if there is not gratefulness and guidance.
Thanks,
Best regards,
Parwana Fayyaz

Okeny-Lucia's picture

Congratulation Fayaz!

This is no mean achievement.I congratulate your father for seeing the strength of women in you.I do believe slowly by slowly your father,s deeds can be translated into a million girls being empowered.Your strength is one to reckon,keep on the light for other less fortunate in Afghanistan.
Thank you

Lucia Buyanza
Reproductive Health

Greengirl's picture

Dear Parwana

Your letter brought tears to my eyes. Gladly though it also elicited joy within me, especially because the women in Afghanistan have a role model in you. I am proud of your father, and if it were within my power, I would have written his name in gold on the roster of Great men.
Your strides speak!

briannamayne's picture

Your courage is an

Your courage is an inspiration to all of us. You letter can move the haerts of those people who will help you fight for what is right and to educate the children in Afghanistan. - buying instagram followers

Ellie's picture

Very creative & persuasive call!

Dear Parwana,

I admire your courage to call on all Afghan fathers to educate their daughters and to argue your case so eloquently and creatively in this letter format - well done! I love your call for action: "Do not kill them; rather, let them fly. Do not be ashamed of them but rather be proud." This is so powerful!

Ellie

Magazine »

Read global coverage through women's eyes

Letters to a Better World

Letters to a Better World

Community »

Connect with women on the ground worldwide

DRC: A Dream Come True

DRC: A Dream Come True

Campaigns »

Be heard at influential forums

WWW: Women Weave the Web

WWW: Women Weave the Web

Programs »

Help us train women citizen journalists

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

Blog »

Read the latest from World Pulse headquarters

The Women of World Pulse LIVE: Meet Jampa

The Women of World Pulse LIVE: Meet Jampa

Partners »

Join forces with our wide network of partners

Nobel Women's Initiative

Nobel Women's Initiative