It's easy to take for granted the things we've never been without. If we have two healthy legs, we don't think about what it means to be able to run and walk and jump. If our lungs work well, we don't give a second thought to being able to breathe.
If you've wanted to hear directly from Afghan women, unfiltered by journalists and uncensored by male relatives, and do so in English, the best place to go since 2009 has been the Afghan Women's Writing Project (AWWP) online magazine.
One of the most empowering and life-affirming things we can do is to give life to a voice and stand strong in our truth. In sharing our stories, we not only empower ourselves, but inspire, empower and pave a path forward for others.
I know I'm supposed to forgive my trespassers. But when called upon to actually forgive, I may be good at "letting go" and "moving on" but does anyone's name ever leave that ledger inside my mind, the one that keeps track of those who have hurt me?
On Saturday, lawmakers in Afghanistan's parliament refused to vote on the Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Yet, read any of the poems or stories on the Afghan Women's Writing Project website, and you will be filled with hope.
As an outsider, it had been easy for me to make assumptions of how fathers treated their daughters. Despite conditions and cultural attitudes that many writers decry as deeply oppressive, many find great love and comfort within their own homes.
Don't expect victims. This is not to say that writers in the Afghan Women's Writing Project have never been abused by the men in their lives. But if you read their words, you will never imagine these writers as passive objects of male cruelty.
Volunteer teachers staff the project and instruct Afghan women online. A few months ago, I joined as a writing tutor and had the opportunity to hear powerful stories while working with program participants on new pieces.