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Speaking Up Is The Fiercest Form Of Resistance

Why our voices matter

BY Beryl Karimi-La Patrona

Dec 28, 2022, 07:28 AM

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"Do not cower, do you hear me? Do not retreat into your shell, enclose yourself in darkness and silence. When has silence ever saved women like you? Do not cower, do you hear me? You stand. You speak. You own your voice." 

~ Ijeoma Umebinyuo.

The day the Taliban banned women's education, a friend texted me the news. I do not know why he did that because I could have ultimately read on the internet, but I figured he wanted me to speak on it. 

I am a feminist keen on dismantling patriarchal structures. I speak about human rights, particularly women's rights, and equality but on this day I didn't know what to say. I know I should have.

A few days after the link was sent to my WhatsApp I saw a video of university girls in Afghanistan weeping. It was filmed when they received the news and was more heartbreaking than hearing it. 

These are girls who had their whole future mapped out like any other girl in the world but someone saw it fit to wipe all that away. Probably they felt like it because they had the power to do it or because they felt the female sex was not deserving of education or any other rights that people are deserving of for simply being human. 

There is something very scary and terrifying about a culture that is intentional about muzzling the voices of women, taking away their right to education, and by extension taking away all the tools, girls need to become self-sufficient in their adulthood.

Their swift action took away the autonomy and agency these girls will need to survive in this world. And they took it all away ignoring the injustice they were imposing on these girls.

I cannot imagine what it must have felt like to have your whole future and by your voice yanked away that fast without reason. Not that there would be any genuine reason that could justify discrimination or the absolute abuse of power that went into making that decision. 

I do not know what will happen to the girls who were weeping that day. I do not know what will happen to the girls who were not caught on video weeping and neither do I know what will happen to all the young girls in Afghanistan who are being denied a very fundamental right that has helped free women everywhere across the world

What I know though is that we must continue using our voices to speak up for them even when it looks like we aren't being listened to. We cannot afford to be silent this time. 

I choose to talk about this because I wondered if my voice matters when I saw the headline of the link my friend sent me. I wanted to speak up but I asked myself, is it enough? Is it impactful? Can it change anything? 

The Taliban took over a few months ago when the west withdrew its forces from the country and at this point, it is so easy to feel helpless. You do not know if anything can be done. You do not know if your voice is enough to stop whatever is happening.

You do not know if your voice is necessary and while these things linger in our minds we cannot afford the injustices that continue to happen to young girls everywhere in the world. The rights we have today can be attributed to different daring women who were bold enough to speak up decades ago and that is why we cannot abandon the only thing we have because of the helplessness we feel.

Our silence or fear will not do anything to serve us or any other woman facing a similar or a more grave injustice than ours.

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