Just two weeks ago, I witnessed a gun fight on a rural road outside of the city of Kabul. Militant fighters are increasing activity and killing more people who support freedom for Afghans. The roads used to be safe. As a woman, I could drive and not fear for my life. Now, there are road blocks, underground bombs, kidnappings, and murders.  

I have fought for women’s rights, helped educate women even when it was illegal, and ran for parliament twice. I helped re-establish a collapsed health system in Bamyan, a rural Afghan province. I was on a list to be killed by the Taliban twice, but was able to escape. I risked my life for the love of my country and its people.

Lately, I have lost faith. I don’t believe the U.S. should settle in my country forever, but now is too soon to leave. There have been so many achievements for democracy, gender equality, and now the progress we have made together is in at risk. 

When Mrs. Laura Bush mentioned my work in an op-ed published in The Hill on June 29th, she said that when women “participate fully in economic and civic affairs, they become a powerful force for peace and prosperity.” I still believe in this principle. Women and children are most vulnerable when security is not good, and that is now the case. Although my faith in the government and political system has been diminished by experiencing corruption and gender discrimination, I will continue to educate women in my country. I will continue to fight for women’s rights and support the most vulnerable people in my country. I have lost faith in the system, but not hope in my people. 

Thanks to my involvement with PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS, an American program that empowers women, I have learned to voice my opinion and know that is the only way to be heard.  Although the organization is not political, it has taught me to stand up for what I believe and take an active role in government. I know that by voicing my concerns, change is bound to take place.  

Dr. Rahela Kaveer is the founder of the Afghan Women’s Empowering Organization and a graduate of the PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS program.