Today, the lead story on CNN.com was about 22 year old Afghan woman, Aesha. She was given to a man at a young age in payment for a crime of her relatives in traditional custom. After years of abuse from her in laws and husband, she ran away and was punished by having her ears and nose hacked off. She then came to the United States where she was given a home at the Women for Afghan Women shelter in New York City.
Aesha was raised in a village ruled by the Taliban and was not given access to education. She came to the states not even literate in her own language, and although thriving with an Afghan family in Maryland, her story is still unfolding.
Organizations like the Girl Effect and 10×10 are working to bring education and equality to girls all over the world. They believe, and have proven, that societies who educate girls are stronger and more productive. Girls=Solutions. I do not pretend to know the solutions to the problems in Afghanistan or Syria or South Sudan, but I know that the empowerment of girls and women are key. Aesha has endured horrors that I can’t imagine, and she represents thousands of women and girls in her country who are still suffering. Aesha’s story does not have an ending yet, and her journey has been difficult to say the least, but she is now going to school. She is learning that she does not have to get married again if she does not want to. She is learning that she can be independent. She can be free.