18-year-old university student Fatama Amiri (name changed) writes about her day-to-day life in Afghanistan, providing a glimpse into how she experiences events before and after the presidential elections on April 5.
April 15, Prison children and bicycles
My father has purchased an expensive bicycle for my younger brother. It makes me think of the condition of Afghan children who are being raised in prisons, who cannot get such gifts from their fathers. They are innocent and harmless children who are victims and have to stay in prison for their safety. They dream of being able to go to school, of living freely and playing with their friends just like others. It is hard to imagine a baby or a child lives in an environment of fear, filth and neglect. This is something that they have been faced with. What I am concerned is about the situation of prison children who have never had social, financial, and intellectual rights in society.
April 14 Internet addiction
My 13-year-old sister Lieda is absorbed by internet and she chats with her friends on Facebook. As soon as she gets up in the morning she turn on her laptop and puts everything aside to see if her friends are online. I remember when I was her age; there wasn't any communication between people [like this]. Afghan children are now overtaken by the marvels of modern technology. They understand how to use new programs and how to change the settings, but older people dare not change the settings, as they are not as familiar with technology.
Technology has become a big part of Afghan youth's lives. I believe that modern technology has a significant role in the development of a country as it makes children active, creative and deep thinkers. I wish that today's Afghan generation will change the future of my country with the access they have to technology and the way they are connected to the rest of the world.
April 9 - Powerful music
Last night, I sang a song to myself about Afghan girls. The singer is Aryana Sayed. I love this song as it's intended to raise awareness about the terrible abuses faced by many women. The song delivers the important message that women should not be killed because of 'wrong' values and old traditions.
I remember that listening to music was banned during the Taliban regime. The extremists also burned all cassettes and radios. Nowadays, however, there are many female singers who sometimes make music advocating women rights. I think music is one of the best ways to fight discrimination against Afghan women.
April 8 - Afghan teachers
Yesterday, I gave a presentation at university. The professor is not a professional language teacher and the quality of his classes is not satisfactory, so he gives marks based on what a student can memorize.
As we don't have a projector in our class, I had to print out the slides. The professor expected me to memorize too many pages - which I couldn’t - so he failed me and the boys in my class laughed at me.
I was embarrassed. I think it is a big challenge for university students to rely on grades given by unprofessional instructors who are not creative. In my opinion, modern technology allows us to think critically.
I sometimes feel that the education system at Balkh University is improving, but the shortage of professional teachers and teaching material has had a negative impact. I often see university students being confronted with problems such as the lack of Internet access.
I really hope the next Afghan government will pay more attention to universities and educational institutions in general. I hope that after the transition of power in Afghanistan the next government will improve academic facilities and employ more professional instructors.
April 7 - Fight for gender equality
On Election Day, it really hurt me that there weren’t any female candidates running for the presidency. Therefore I made a promise to myself that I would fight against gender discrimination and play a role in politics in the future. I want to be among those Afghan women who fight for their rights and make their voices heard.
This decision reminded me of female parliamentarian Shukria Barekzai, who said that women should do the work themselves and not wait for others to do it for them. Barkzai has been an inspiration for me ever since.
I sometimes feel that the price of getting involved in Afghan politics is too high, but even if I am killed because of my views, I believe I will have sacrificed my life for a good cause. There is a strong need for more women to stand up and fight for their rights. We should be able to express our views without any fear.
I have decided to be among those Afghans who bring about positive changes to the lives of Afghan women. I am determined to actively take part in the fight against gender discrimination in my country.
April 6 - Determination
Yesterday, I went to the polls for the very first time. I waited for several hours before I was able to cast my ballot, as there were a large number of people who had also come to vote. I was initially afraid because of the security situation and the Taliban threats. But I felt safe as Afghan security forces were everywhere to ensure everyone's safety.
I noticed that Afghan women were clearly committed to shaping a peaceful future, so they voted freely and without compulsion to elect their future president and provincial council members.
Before going to the polls my father told me to vote for his favorite candidate. But I refused to listen to him and told him I wanted to vote instead for the candidate whom I thought was the right person to lead my country. I am proud of my people for their accomplishment and determination to build a better future. Afghans made history on Election Day.
April 5 - Election Day
Today is a very special day for me and my country. It's Election Day in Afghanistan and my dreams are about to come true as I am set to vote for my favorite candidate for the first time in my life. I want to be relaxed when I am voting. I never thought I would be lucky enough to witness such a day in my life.
I prayed before leaving for the polling center. I took a deep breath and whispered to myself, "I hope that these elections will bring peace and prosperity to my lovely country and there will be no violence." I also prayed that I would choose the right candidate without thinking about his tribe, race or color.
After all the terrible things Afghan women have been through, I feel as if I am dreaming. I now have the chance to take part in shaping the future of my country. I cannot wait anymore. I am leaving now to cast my vote for my favorite candidate. I will tell you tomorrow how it went.