Free Women Writers just won the Global Thinkers Forum‘s 2017 Award for Excellence in Women’s Empowerment! We are incredibly honored and energized to be recognized for telling the authentic stories of Afghan women. Our contributor Awesta Telyar Azada had the opportunity to attend the award ceremony on our behalf. Below is her powerful speech.
“Thank you so much for the introduction! And thank you Global Thinkers Forum for honoring Free Women Writers with this award. It is a true privilege to accept this award on behalf of this collective of activists, writers, and students tirelessly advocating for gender equality and social justice in Afghanistan.
Known as Dukhtarane Rabia in Afghanistan, Free Women Writers consists of fourteen volunteer members and hundreds of writers across Afghanistan and in the diaspora. They use their stories to tackle inequality, discrimination, and violence against women. The collective started as a humble book of forty plus articles and poems and has grown into a platform with nearly a hundred thousand readers every month.
Most recently, Free Women Writers published a book for women facing abuse and violence at home. Titled You Are Not Alone, the book embodies the organization’s spirit and work. Free Women Writers not only publishes Afghan women’s words and brings them to the world, but also helps every Afghan woman know that whether she is facing violence at home or feels crushed under the weight of systematic patriarchy outside her house- she is not alone. That her sisters- and even some brothers- around the country are standing behind her.
I’ve had the chance to write for Free Women Writers and I read the content they publish in local languages as well as in English religiously. I am constantly floored by the courage, compassion, and determination of these Afghan women who have decided to stand up and say: no more silence, no more isolation, no more violence.
What makes Free Women Writers unique is exactly this- their courage. They are not afraid to talk about issues others shy away from. They are committed to fighting for equal rights and opportunities for Afghan women, and content with nothing less. With their words, they are slowly sowing the seeds of a cultural transformation that will make the Afghanistan of the future.
In this Afghanistan, women will no longer cower out of fear of sexualized, physical and other forms of violence. In this Afghanistan, girls will no longer be frightful of existing in public spaces. They will walk with their heads held high. In this Afghanistan, love, not dominance, will form the atmosphere of families and communities. In this Afghanistan, everyone will have a fair chance to participate in rebuilding their country and reach their full potential.
And in the long- and yes, painful- process of building this Afghanistan your support is instrumental. Patriarchy is a global problem that harms women, men, children, families, communities, nations- everyone. And to fight this problem, we have to form a unified voice and networks of solidarity. Today, by giving this award to Free Women Writers you’ve taken a giant step in this direction. Let’s ensure that our solidarity will grow from here on.
Thank you and have a great evening!”