Once is more than enough


Date: Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Author: Farahnaz Forotan*

Farahnaz Forotan, journalist and #MyRedLine campaign ambassador for UN Women.

In no other time since I was born, has peace ever been so close. And in no other time have I felt the urge to take part in shaping the future of a country that knew only war for as long as I know myself, the country I call home - Afghanistan.

As an Afghan and as a journalist I got to know my country inside out, I listened, learned and told the world stories of Afghans of all backgrounds, ethnicities, from North to South, for Jalalabad to Kabul, from presidents to carpenters, from palaces to tents. I am tired of war. I am tired of seeing people losing their lives on the battlefield and students dying with books in their hands.

The Afghans are tired. We want to see an end to the war.

I remember my days as a refugee in Iran. My mother was walking me to a school in Tehran only to find out that refugees like me were not eligible to go to school, that school or any school. Once, a woman told my mother that if her daughter wants an education, she should go back to Afghanistan. A year passed by until I could finally go to school. I still remember the color of my school bag.

Can anyone who has not been a refugee understand what a child like me has been through - a child who would have to sit on an old carpet to learn the alphabet, a child who would have to learn at a very early age what it means to live outside your homeland? And as a child, I could only partially feel the pain of being a refugee. The pain felt because my homeland was ruled by a group that did not allow girls to go to school.

Now that those days are gone, I am hearing that peace is coming. But at what price will this peace come? Will women still have to pay a price? Isn’t once more than enough?

Yes, we are tired; we have been waiting for a moment like today for years. We are tired of war and the pain and the bitter memories that haunt us every day. But none of these memories justify going back to the past. I used to live in a ruined country, but now I want to take part in rebuilding this country.

But I also have a red line. Peace should not be just for the elites. Peace should be for all of us, for the ones changing the norms, for the ones making the impossible possible, for those who do not want to have anything to do with politics, for each and every Afghan. It should ensure social justice for all of us, it should safeguard human rights for everyone. Peace should have red lines.

Peace must not come at the price of going back. Because we achieved a lot these past years. We achieved the right for me to write this opinion piece. We also achieved something more than that. Solidarity among Afghan women is growing, today women listen to each other, they talk about their common problems, they share ideas and they stand for their rights collectively.

This is what “MyRedLine” is about, voicing collectively what we are not going to go back to, regardless of the regime that will rule this country. Because I only see Afghanistan peaceful and prosperous if its future is built on social justice for everyone. And I am not alone. In the face of atrocities, we, the people of Afghanistan stand for our rights. We decide on our future. We will remain here to shape the future where all of us can live together. The time to be louder as ever, stronger as ever, united as ever and supported as ever is now.

I am Farahnaz Forotan. I am a journalist. #MyRedLine is my pen and my freedom of expression. What’s yours?

Let the world know where you draw the line. Join the #MyRedLine movement. Share on social media your Red Line video, add #MyRedLine and tag: Farahnaz Forotan on Twitter at @FForotan and on Facebook at @FForotan, and UN Women Afghanistan on Twitter at @unwomenafghan and on Facebook at @unwomenafghanistan