"Afghanistan has become the graveyard of buried hopes"

A young woman covered in a red veil sits on a blanky in a dim dirt hut.

Photo Credit: UN Women/Sayed Habib Bidell

This is not Ghotai, but is one of the millions of Afghan women who are confined to their homes.

Ghotai (not her real name) is a former computer science student from Baghlan Province, Afghanistan. She is not allowed to share her story, so we are doing it for her. 

"One week before the Taliban takeover, I got my admission to the university with a full scholarship to study my Bachelor’s in Information Technology and Computer Science. I was delighted and hopeful about my future. I was very excited to go to the university campus, study with classmates and make the best memories of my life there. However, the Taliban ruined everything I had hoped for. 

I started to apply for scholarships from other countries and universities, and finally, I was admitted to an online university known as the University of the People to study English.

Then, the university offered us free online education. With that, I could finally move on from all the depression and hopelessness. I started my first semester, and as time passed, I got familiar with online learning and how to manage my time studying at two universities simultaneously. Currently, I am in my second semester at the university, but I realized that learning online is not enough for me to improve my social skills and get more involved with my studies.

Afghanistan has become the graveyard of buried hopes. This pas year was one of the most challenging years of all for people living here, particularly for women and girls. They have burned thousands of young people's hopes and dreams into ashes, especially those of women and girls, and I am one of them.

As an Afghan girl, I have faced many obstacles in my life because I’m a girl. I was deprived of many things I wanted to do, like art, music, sports and more. Dealing with all these struggles taught me never to stop fighting for my dreams and future. I have never stopped dreaming about all the fantastic ways we can build our future. I have worked hard to keep up with my education in a place where no girl is allowed to go to school. I want to be one of the examples of brave Afghan women and girls who never lost hope, reached peaks of success and continued to serve their country and their people.

Since the Taliban banned schools and universities for girls, I’ve been helping freshly graduated classmates and relatives to apply for different programmes and guiding them through the application process. I’ve helped my friends and cousins with the process of taking the Duolingo English Test, applying to the university or for the scholarships the University of the People offers Afghan girls.

In the four decades since the first takeover of the Taliban in Afghanistan, women fought and forced the male-dominant de facto authorities to give them their proper rights and their freedom. Some women worked in high ranks of the Government, built NGOs and ran different businesses across the country. We were very optimistic about our future in Afghanistan, with all the progress we had achieved. However, after the Taliban took over the country again, they burned all these hopes into ashes. They have ruined our hope for the future that we had worked for."

Ghotai's story and those of more than 50 other women currently living in Afghanistan can be found on the After August website. Their names and locations have been changed for their protection. This collection of true stories documenting the lives of Afghan women is a collaboration between UN Women Afghanistan, Zan Times, Limbo and independent storytellers. It aims to raise awareness and incite an international audience to reflect and, hopefully, to act. 

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