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Shirley: Fighting for Afghani gender equality as a white woman


shirley immerzeel navy afghanistan nananation insipration female equality
Imagine being in ๐ฅ๐จ๐ฏ๐ž. Real love. Puppy love. Passionate love. Sometimes youโ€™re lucky and you marry the love of your life. You have children with him, or her, and you grow old together. Or maybe not. But you still got to fall in love, fall out of it, get hurt, grieve some and do it all over again.

Now imagine all of that is not a choice. Youโ€™re forced to marry. Youโ€™re not allowed to take compliments, wait.. you don't even know HOW to take a compliment because youโ€™ve never been taught to. Youโ€™re not allowed to defend yourself, the men will do that for you. And of course: school is not for you. ๐๐ž๐œ๐š๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ž ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎโ€™๐ซ๐ž ๐š ๐ฐ๐จ๐ฆ๐š๐ง.
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So when Shirley set off to Afghanistan to teach Afghani about equality, she was met with scepticism from others and to be frank: also by herself. She expected indifference, demeanour, indirect looks and hostility. Especially as a white woman teaching Afghani men about equality.
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Shirley described her experience in Afghanistan as an โ€œupside-down worldโ€: everything she expected, she experienced the other way. So when she went in to plead for equality and expected all of the above from the Afghani men, and women, she was actually met with respect and openness. They understood that โ€œ๐™ฌ๐™๐™š๐™ฃ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™ฉ๐™–๐™ ๐™š ๐™ฌ๐™ค๐™ข๐™š๐™ฃ ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ฉ ๐™ค๐™› ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™š๐™ฆ๐™ช๐™–๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ, ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™ฉ๐™–๐™ ๐™š ๐Ÿ“๐ŸŽ% ๐™–๐™ฌ๐™–๐™ฎ ๐™›๐™ง๐™ค๐™ข ๐™–๐™ก๐™ก ๐™ค๐™ฅ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™จ ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™š๐™ญ๐™ฅ๐™š๐™ง๐™ž๐™š๐™ฃ๐™˜๐™š๐™จโ€
As for the women she met? They were fierce, independent and eager. Eager to learn more, to fight for a better future and take in compliments. One girl Shirley met whispered in her ear that โ€œshe had a love-marriage that ๐’˜๐’‚๐’”๐’โ€™๐’• arrangedโ€ because โ€œher dad listened and understood real loveโ€.
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So although this definitely is a story about a courageous woman going to Afghanistan fighting for equal rights. Itโ€™s also a story about hope and a little nudge from her to us all in to remember we are growing up privileged, to appreciate our freedom to choose our loves and the expectation that weโ€™ll see them tomorrow.
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Plant little seeds. Have patience. ๐‚๐จ๐ฆ๐ฉ๐ฅ๐ข๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ ๐ฌ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž and then ๐ฌ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž ๐ฆ๐จ๐ซ๐ž and appreciate all the things in life, however small they are.ย #nanagirls

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