A Very Young Activist’s Reply

I need help. I need help to understand how and why someone would write a story about how Canadian Women are forcing their beliefs upon Muslim Women. I pasted this chunk below:

At the heart of the relationship between feminism and imperialism is an Orientalist logic that posits Western women as exemplary and emancipated in relation to “Other” (Afro-Asian/colonized) women, thereby charging the former with the responsibility of saving the latter from their backwards (i.e. Muslim), uncivilized cultures.

And even though I don’t understand at all the words Orientalist or feminism theory, I do understand what this chunk means, and now I want to speak my truth.

I am the founder of Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan. I founded this organization 3 years ago, when I was 9 years old. In the fall of 2006, I found out that the privileges that I have, other girls in our world don’t get. I learned about this when I went with my Mom to listen to journalist, author and human rights activist, Sally Armstrong speak about Afghanistan. She told stories about the terrible things that happen to little girls in Afghanistan. I was so moved. It was so upsetting to me that these girls weren’t able to exercise their rights. They were not able to go to school and sometimes they didn’t go to school because they were afraid they would be hurt or even killed.

I have just turned 13 and I know there is a lot for me to learn but I am sure of this one thing. Education=peace. To me that means that once everybody is educated, peace will follow. In Afghanistan, girls don’t have the chance for that. Less than 10% of girls in Afghanistan are able to attend school and 11,000,000 Afghans are illiterate. The schools that are operating don’t have running water or bathroom facilities. There is a very low number of qualified teachers so people are not getting educated and when people aren’t educated, they fear the unknown, they are unable to support their families and they become desperate. I believe this creates violence and war, and supports beliefs that violate all human rights. I believe that education is the most powerful tool we have to move towards peace.

I am very passionate about my work, which along with raising awareness is funding education projects in Afghanistan. I do this with support from Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan. The author told a story about an organization that does not exist. CW4WA are Moms and Sisters and friends who work together side by side because they have listened to the girls and women in Afghanistan and heard them plead for help. Unlike so many who hear about human rights violations and shake their heads and do nothing, they did not. They took action. I can’t think that the person that wrote this stuff could have ever been to Afghanistan. I have not either. Honestly, I want to go so bad but I am scared that I could get killed and just imagine living in fear like that every day. I know it’s different for adults when they think about human rights and how much we should interfere, but in the words of my great inspiration Sally Armstrong,

“There are no Western rights or Eastern Rights, there are only human rights.”

No one will ever tell me that Muslim women or any women think it’s ok to not be allowed to get educated or to have their daughters sold off at 8 years old or traded off at 4 years old because of cultural beliefs. No one will tell me that women in Afghanistan think it is ok for their daughters to have acid thrown in their faces. It makes me ill to think a 4 year old girl must sleep in a barn and get raped daily by old men. It’s sick and wrong and I don’t care who calls me an Orientalist or whatever I will keep raising money to educate girls and women in Afghanistan and I will keep writing letters and sending them in the back pack of my friend Lauryn Oates as she works so bravely on the ground helping women and girls learn what it is to exercise their rights. I believe in human rights so I believe everyone has the right their own opinion, I just wish that the energy that was used to write that story, that is just not true, could have been used to educate a girl in Afghanistan. That’s what the girls truly want. That’s what the Women in Afghanistan truly want. I have a drawer full of letters from them that says just that.

PS, I was at the same “photo op” that Lauryn Oates was at on Parliament hill with the Prime Minister and Minister Oda. That day they matched all the money Little Women was raising to pay the salaries of Teachers and support education projects in Afghanistan. That means that 100% of $250,000 is now going to education projects in Afghanistan so I am thrilled and proud to be in that picture.


Alaina Podmorow


Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan

March 29, 2010

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