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International women's day 2014: Inspiring change - Haroon talks about changed perceptions.

08 March 2014

"Haroon, who joined us as a boarder from Afghanistan a year and a half ago, has experienced a remarkable transformation of his views and attitudes towards girls and women since arriving at Regents. He quickly became one of the founding members of the Girl Up club at Regents which seeks to raise awareness of gender disparities in the developing world. Through his studies and the experiences he has been offered at Regents he now understands the injustices that women in many parts of the world, and even within his own family are made to bear. His honest account follows." - Business and Economics Teacher Louise Jenkins

Only at the age of 17 years I learnt how to tie a shoelace - and I learnt it from a female, from a girl, a girl who is going to be a woman one day and she is no less than any one of the millions of women in Afghanistan.

My name is Haroon and I am from Afghanistan.

More than a year ago I arrived in Thailand to study at Regents International School Pattaya, which happend to be a life changing experience for me.

I was born, brought up and spent the entire first 16 years of my life in Afghanistan, a country where it is very common to hear that a husband hits his wife or a girl is punished for not cleaning the house, not preparing the food on time, or not washing cloths properly. Women are not treated with equal respect to men in my country. A girl in Afghanistan typically does most of the housework such as cleaning the house, cooking, washing clothes, washing the dishes after the food has been served to the family; and much more. I am embarrassed about it, but that is Afghanistan's reality.

Spending a year away from my family and my country brought an enormous change to my personal attitude towards women and changed my perception of “men being superior to women”, which I had been brought up to believe, in a big way. During the first two months after I arrived at Regents I met amazing people and made lots of friends, both girls and boys. I asked one of my female friends, "Do you know how to cook?" She laughed at me and said, "No, I have never cooked any food other than making some snacks when I needed to."  It was at that moment that I realised how unfair it was for my sisters to make my food; to make my bed after I got up in the morning; to wash my clothes; and to wash my dirty dishes after she had served me some food. I realised that I had been an ungrateful brother for making her wash my dirty, smelly football socks and not appreciating the food that she had prepared for me and even complaining about the taste of it!

If I go back through the memories of my life it was my sister who encouraged me the most to study, to learn something new and motivated me all the time. In fact, whatever I am today, whoever I am, or wherever I am, it is all because of that sister of mine who never complained about me being unfair to her but instead encouraged me to study and work hard and always helped me with my studies. It is on the 8th of March that I personally salute not only my mother, sisters and all girls and women in Afghanistan, but all women for the roles they play in our lives. I salute you for giving me my life, teaching me my first words and being there always to support me. - Haroon, Boarding Student

To learn more about Haroon's home Kabul, please watch Haroon's video that he filmed on his visit home during the last summer holidays.