As a summer reading assignment, the senior class was assigned to read the best selling novel, The Pearl That Broke It’s Shell. On Friday October 21st, the IHA community was lucky to have the author of the book, Dr. Nadia Hashimi, come as a speaker.
Dr. Nadia Hashimi, an Afghan-American, was inspired to write this book because of the lack of knowledge about the country of Afghanistan. She explained how before 9/11, Afghanistan was never really a country that the general public had a lot of knowledge about. She wanted people to know more than just what was portrayed in the media. Although it is true that the women don’t have many rights, it cannot be taken for face value.
Her desire to educate herself and others about the history of women’s rights in Afghanistan led her to find out about the Afghan practice of “bacha posh”. The practice of “bacha posh” is when a little girl, from a family that has no sons, dresses up as a little boy to help the family with daily chores like work and grocery shopping. Although this may sound strange, it makes sense for many cultures in which women do not have the same freedom and rights as men. When a little girl changes her clothes and hairstyle, she could be treated as a boy in both her home and her community.
The novel focuses on two women from the same family, one in the present day Afghanistan and one in 20th century Afghanistan, who go through time as a “bacha posh”. Although they lived in completely different centuries, they both were forced to temporarily change their gender in order to provide for themselves and their families. The practice of bacha posh points out a problem in societies all over the world: lack of women’s rights.
Dr. Hashimi was truly captivated with this subject after extensive research because it pointed out how much the country had changed since her parents left Afghanistan in the 1970s. She discussed how her mother and grandmother were both able to go to school and have jobs when they lived in Afghanistan, but after her parents left the struggle of war and hardship had caused women rights to take turn for the worse.
Dr. Hashimi also explained how this topic is relevant to young women across the globe. She told us about how she experienced prejudice in the medical field due to her gender. Problems with women’s rights do not only exist in Afghanistan but also here in the United States.
Senior Angelina Maleska stated that she loved “how Dr. Hashimi’s presentation was able to relate “bacha posh” to stereotypes that exist in our society today.” Controversy about the wage gap is still a big problem today but why? Because according to some, women aren’t seen as equal to men.
Dr. Hashimi was able to take a complicated subject like “bacha posh” and explain it in a way that everyone could understand. Her presentation was truly inspiring and informational.
Mrs. Pecora, an IHA English teacher, adds that she loved the entire presentation because, “Dr. Hashimi is a natural orator who draws in her audience.” Mrs. Pecora also loved “when Dr. Hashimi indicated, during the Q & A, that Khala Shaima was her favorite character; she was my favorite character too!” Both Mrs. Pecora and Dr. Nadia Hashimi shared the love for this character because of how she chose to speak up for her nieces in a society that told her voice did not matter.
Whether one read the book or not, it is safe to say that Dr. Nadia Hashimi’s eloquent words and informational presentation had an effect on all of us. She was able to discuss topics that are relevant to us all, as young women. The IHA community thanks her dedicating her time to come and speak.
By Antoinette Afriye’17, Staff Writer