Radical Radiance: Meena Keshwar Kamal

meena-4Today’s Radical Radiance spotlight goes to Meena Keshwar Kamal; the Afghan woman who gave her life to fighting for women’s rights in her community. Meena was an incredibly passionate activist who used her talents to fight for Women’s Rights in Afghanistan and Internationally, in a myriad of different projects.

When she was just a nineteen ear old student in Kabul Meena founded an organization called RAWA in 1977, which stands for The Revolutionary Association of the Woman of Afghanistan. RAWA is an organization that strives to “give voice to the deprived and silenced women of Afghanistan.” In 1981 she launched a bilingual feminist magazine called Payam-e-Zan (which means Women’s Message in English). This magazine, which was produced through RAWA exposed the criminal activities of fundamentalist groups that were damaging to basic human rights.

In addition to being a powerful and passionate advocate for Women’s Rights Meena was also a talented writer. I’d like to share one of the poems she wrote that I found particularly inspiring as a feminist:

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I’ll Never Return

I’m the woman who has awoken
I’ve arisen and become a tempest among the ashes of my burnt children
I’ve arisen from the rivulets of my brother’s blood
My nation’s wrath has empowered me
My ruined and burnt villages fill me with hatred against the enemy.
I’m the woman who has awoken,
I’ve found my path and will never return.
I’ve opened closed doors of ignorance
I’ve said farewell to all golden bracelets
Oh Compatriot, I’m not what I was
I’m the woman who has awoken
I’ve found my path and will never return.
I’ve seen barefoot, wandering and homeless children
I’ve seen henna-handed brides with mourning clothes
Ive seen giant walls of the prisons swallow freedom in their ravenous stomach.
I’ve been reborn amidst epics of resistance and courage
I’ve learned the song of freedom in the last breaths, in the waves of blood and in victory
Oh Compatriot, Oh brother, no longer regard me as weak and incapable
With all my strength I’m with you on the path of my land’s liberation.
My voice has mingled with thousands of arisen women
My fists are clenched with the fists of thousands of compatriots
Along with you I’ve stepped up to the path of my nation,
To break all these sufferings all these fetters of slavery,
Oh compatriot , Oh brother, I’m not what I was
I’m the woman who has awoken
I’ve found my path and will never return.

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poster2A RAWA poster published following her assassination.

Meena was martyred on February 4th On 1987;  assassinated in Quetta, Pakistan by agents of Khedamat-e Etelea’at-e Dawlati, the Marxist Afghani secret police. As horribly sad and unnecessary as her death was, Meena died fighting for a noble cause, and managed to create a lot of hope in her short life. She may be gone from this earth, but Meena will forever be remembered as a brave, kind, and driven person who did not back down in the fight for justice. In a biography about Meena, published on the RAWA, website following her death the organization said:

“Meena gave 12 years of her short but brilliant life to struggle for her homeland and her people. She had a strong belief that despite the darkness of illiteracy, ignorance of fundamentalism, and corruption and decadence of sell outs imposed on our women under the name of freedom and equality, finally that half of population will be awaken and cross the path towards freedom, democracy and women’s rights. The enemy was rightly shivering with fear by the love and respect that Meena was creating within the hearts of our people. They knew that within the fire of her fights all the enemies of freedom, democracy and women would be turned to ashes.”

One thought on “Radical Radiance: Meena Keshwar Kamal

  1. Inspiring! I would love to know more about what specifically inspired her to change and some background about her family. What kind of criminal activities did she expose in her publications or besides her publications that caused her assassination?

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