16-year-old Zahra Habibi’s speech at the Canadian Embassy of Afghanistan

Yesterday, on October 10th 2016, my friend, Zahra Habibi, gave a speech at the Canadian Embassy in Afghanistan. She has allowed me to post her speech and some photos in observance of International Day of the Girl.

14625631_10100188463215332_399459212_oMy name is Zahra Habibi. I am studying 11th grade at Suria High School and I am an athlete. On International Day of the Girl, I congratulate all girls around the world and especially the brave girls of my country, Afghanistan. I dedicate this speech to those who don’t know there is a day for them, to those whose rights are taken from them and to those who have lived their lives for others.

13521214_261634514201563_1244307329_nI will start my speech with a memory from Bamyan. The all-girl Ascend Mountaineering team went to Bamyan a few days ago for mountain climbing and camping. Our goal was to hike in mountains of Bamyan and see the highest mountain of Bamyan.  After four days of hiking, we packed all our things and were hiking back to the city. As we neared the city, we noticed some men standing before us and watching us. When we reached them, they asked us who we were and what we were doing there. When we told them that we are mountaineers and we had gone to the Shah Fuladi Mountain (the highest mountain of Bamyan at 4,591m), they laughed at us and said, “You can never do that. You may not have even been able to see that mountain.” All of us tried to convince them, but they didn’t believe us. It was a normal reaction and I didn’t expect them to appreciate us or believe us, but what really hurts me is that it’s not only the idea of two or three men, most men in Afghanistan think that a girl does not have the ability to do something difficult and challenging. Because of these wrong beliefs, they prevent women from improving.

13874623_10153618239550684_1535656519_nAfghanistan is a male-dominated society and, if a girl wants to do something, she must have the support of a man and many men decide that their female family members should be kept locked at home and not allowed to do things they want. It’s not only that. Many other dangerous things happen in Afghanistan and girls are suffering from them – like raping, kidnapping, killing and street harassment. Even in safe places girls like a dormitory, girls don’t feel safe.

Fortunately, many girls are not accepting injustice anymore. They fight for their rights with knowledge, sports, being active members of society and many other things which show their ability and strength. They can be leaders and presidents and nobody can stand in their way.


Photo by Asif Rasooly

I will end my speech with a beautiful quote from Eleanor Roosevelt that says, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

From Wikipedia: International Day of the Girl Child is an international observance day declared by the United Nations; it is also called the Day of the Girl and the International Day of the Girl. October 11, 2012, was the first Day of the Girl. The observation supports more opportunity for girls and increases awareness of gender inequality faced by girls worldwide based upon their gender. This inequality includes areas such as right to education/access to education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care, and protection from discrimination, violence against women and unfree child marriage.

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2 Responses to 16-year-old Zahra Habibi’s speech at the Canadian Embassy of Afghanistan

  1. Jeanne Davis says:

    Thank you Kara, Change happens slowly but it does happen. These young women are pioneers, may they have many successes! Jeanne

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