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I woke up to the CNN headline: “Afghan Police: Man Kills Wife for Giving Birth To Daughter Instead of Son.” Obvious woman hating. The violence against women worldwide is atrocious and Afghanistan is the epitome of it. Girls are unwanted and so are women.

Women are undervalued and devalued because in a patriarchal system women are second class. We are not the ones on top. We are “not as good” as boys and men.

The system says men are the rulers and we are to be kept below them. It turns out that to make that happen, women have been denied education, rights as individual people in government, religion, society, for our bodies, minds and selves.

How do we change a system we are in when most people don’t even realize that system is in place and that we participate in it and in our own demise? 

Speaking out against violence against women, having laws in place that prohibit violence against women, and setting consequences for those who behave violently against women is a start.

Respecting women and demanding women be respected. The system was originally set in place by people. People can undo it. We can change it.

I am a daughter to a father and mother who have loved me and supported me throughout my life. When I came into the world, I was celebrated and people were joyous. They did not wish I was a boy. There are things I have done that my family has not been happy with, but they love me and have been able to come to terms with the fact that I am their daughter and also my own person with her own life.

As a child, I was taken to the library. I was encouraged to play sports and games. I was able to play with girls and boys. I was allowed to wear shorts and pants. I have been able to go to school, to graduate from high school and to seek higher education.

I loved being a girl. I explored the woods and crawled through sewer tunnels to see where they went. I played Sharks and Minnows in the pool and I enjoyed being the shark and also the minnow. I roller skated down a long street where I lived that was essentially a huge hill and I went so fast I didn’t know if I would be able to stop and realized half way down that it probably hadn’t been my smartest idea, though I flew off into the grass and was okay. I played house, library, school and office. I read books and I had slumber parties with other girls where we stayed up laughing and watching movies.

I’m not going to go through my whole life reminiscing, but I was a girl and there was nothing wrong with that. There still isn’t. I was smart. I wasn’t compared to boys. There was no need to compare. I was awesome in myself. Girls don’t have to be compared to anyone. We have to be valued and respected for being girls.

If instead of girls being killed when they are born or aborted when the parents find out they are girls, how different would it be if when girls were born, the whole community said: you are so lucky. The girl will be smart. She will study, have a career, and bring intelligence and wisdom to your family. She may bear children that will bring you joy and love and will continue the population with blood from your family line. She will be a pillar of the community and will speak about peace and love. She will be a teacher of the next generations. She will care for you as you grow old. She will make our country a better place. She will change laws and make things better for everyone. She will be a strong girl and will grow into a strong woman. She is valuable. How lucky you are to have a girl born to you!

How different would it be?