My mother is the epitome of an empowered female.
She has gone through hardships in order to achieve her dreams and life aspirations. As a young child, whenever I was going through a tough time academically, my mother would share stories with me about her own arduous academic journey. My mother grew up in the capital of Afghanistan. There, she faced gender biases in both high school and college. Specifically, there was a stigma against women who received an education and maintained a well-established career. Societal conventions at that time deemed that women should be stay-at-home wives. However, my mother was determined to do otherwise. Endless all-nighters, study sessions with friends and multiple trips to the library; my mother was determined to succeed.
In high school, she graduated top of her class and went on to study Civil Engineering at the University of Kabul. Despite the civil war that was unfolding in her backyard, she managed to become one of the select few female assistant professors at the University. The sound of explosions and gunfire didn’t stop her from pursuing her dreams. She would complete a dangerous trek to the University every morning in order to help teachers and their students. Additionally, even though the of majority of the classes she taught only had male students, she was not intimidated. Instead, the presence of an all-male audience reaffirmed her faith in the path she had embarked upon. Seeing her male counterparts succeed in a field dominated by men motivated her to do the exact same.
Being both a civil engineer and professor has not only affected my mother’s life, but it has also affected mine. Hearing about my mother’s sheer determination to succeed in an environment that wasn’t conducive to female independence, or prosperity, has pushed me to do what I am most passionate about and be resilient in the face of adversity. Conservative friends and family pressured me to abandon my dreams of working in the environmental field as a result of their own personal aversions to issues like climate change. Despite their disapproval, I am majoring in Environmental Studies and plan to one day become an environmental policy specialist.
Most importantly, my mother’s empowering nature has inspired me to stay in the journalistic field, even if reading and writing is only a hobby a mine. She has inspired me to create my own path, a path that enables me to explore my interests and grow into the adult that I have always dreamt of becoming. The bold decisions my mother made throughout her adolescence have been reminder for me to pursue the things I am passionate about. For that very reason, I decided to join the Memunatu team. I am so excited to be Memunatu’s newest Editorial Intern. I hope to inspire and empower young women in West Africa, similar to the way that my mother inspires me.
By Arianne Noorestani
Editorial Intern, Summer 2017