March is a special month because it celebrates International Women’s Day. Each year, I think of all the incredible women in the world making a difference. The likes of Laura Coryton, Roya Sadat, Shaharzad Akhbar and Sahraa Karimi – all of whom inspire me. But what about the Afghanistan diaspora in the UK? They inspire me too.
Adela first came to the UK and joined the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association in 2015 after fleeing the Taliban. She was a well-known human rights activist in Afghanistan and campaigned to change legal reforms to protect the rights of women in marriage.
In 2012, Adela was threatened to be killed by the Taliban after receiving a ‘nightletter’, which is a common intimidation tactic to those considered an enemy defying Islamic law. She went into hiding immediately after then, and fled with her family to India, seeking temporary refuge.
Recognised as a refugee by the United Nations and unable to work Adela struggled to support her children and still fearing for her life. She then made her way to the UK in 2015 without her husband or children, speaking no English.
Telling her story years after meeting her still inspires me. Adela is the kind of person that you want to have around – she makes things happen and is committed to doing good – even on her days off. She is such an active member of the ACAA andan encouragement to women over the world who stand for equal rights and a better future.
At the ACAA we have nurtured Adela recognising her skills and experience as a strong woman campaigning for a better future for women. She is now the Women’s Project coordinator for our women’s only programmes and events and it is through Adela’s work that so many women have come through the ACAA feeling integrated in society.
In the face of oppression and defeating political pressure, she considered it a personal duty to speak up about the unequal world that women live in in Afghanistan. Adela’s bravery has made me want to speak out about her story for International Women’s Day but it is her continued determination to empower women and make the world a more equal place that I think she deserves such recognition. Her trauma has not stopped her from fighting for women’s rights.
She has taught me so much about my home country. It simply is not possible to live in Afghanistan as a woman and have your human rights respected. Moving here when I was 5, sometimes I feel disconnected with Afghanistan but feel incredibly lucky that my father made the brave decision all those years ago to come and make our lives here in the UK.
International Women’s Day this year drew on the notion of Collective Individualism: #EachforEqual. It symbolised that we all make up a ‘whole’. In other words, our individual actions, conversations,behaviours and mind-sets have an impact on our larger society. Collectively, we can make change happen. Collectively, I believe we can each help to create a gender equal world.
While we think about who inspires us to be better more powerful women – girls and boys across the world I urge you to think of the Adela’s of the world and recognise their bravery, fearlessness and empowerment of others.
Rabia Nasimi, Strategic Development Manager at the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association (ACAA) now a PHD student at the University of Cambridge is a firm believer that the people of Afghanistan will continue to progress.
For more information about Rabia Nasimi and the work of the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association, please visit: https://acaa.org.uk/
*Photo Credit to ACAA