“I’m a boy and I use to play a lot in the street. But if I were a girl, I would spend more time washing the dishes, sweeping the floors, helping mother to cook, putting away the things in my room… “

It is a passage from a poem, that my daughter, a seventh form student had to learn by heart recently for her Russian lesson. I helped her with the right pronunciation, but then, I had to talk to her about so-called “male” and “female” duties. And I also, had to explain to her, why her brother, 10 years older than her uses to cook, and wash the dishes, and iron, and sweep the floor, even if he is a boy, not a girl.

From the very first day of school the books represent the following picture the students have to speak about: mother is busy in the kitchen, grandmother is knitting, while the males of the family, father, grandfather and the boys are either playing chess, or reading the newspapers, or watching TV. It is a picture the little children see at home, too. There is no wonder that most of grown ups have a stereotyped mentality about the family, responsibilities, duties, places of the members within the family.

I have been lucky to be raised in a family, where the seven siblings: four girls and three boys worked together and supported each other. Although my mother was illiterate, while my father attended just the first four classes of school, they still had the innate wisdom to bring us up as independent people, able to follow our own path throughout the life regardless the difficulties we may encounter.

But, those days I didn’t realize that. The atmosphere in my family seemed to me being a natural one. Later, getting married I was shocked for the first time, when my husband treated me as the woman whose responsibilities were to take care of him, without being helped even if I had a full time job, like him. Of course, his mother accused me when I divorced from him. As a result I had to take care and bring up our 5 years old son alone. That was the turning point in my life when I began interacting with and supporting women who were having difficulties in life, suffering much of being spoken rudely or even beaten by their husbands, but keeping on staying with them because of the children.

Later I met a nice, amiable, respectful young man I married to and a year later, we were very happy when our daughter was born. It was like a fairy tale in real life until…. unfortunately, my husband and the father of our daughter passed away in a car crash. It was unfair, unbelievable, and impossible to think that I had no longer my lover next to me; that our two months old daughter wouldn’t be hugged, kissed, patted by her father, that he will not enjoy her first words, steps, school results…. It was the month of November; people were planning their winter vacation, speaking about Christmas parties and New Year….

They say we must be grateful to everything given to us. All the hardships are given to make us wiser, more powerful, understanding, supportive, helpful…. Today, I am able to understand and accept this idea and I agree with it, because if at that time, my parents-in –law hadn’t refused me any help, I wouldn’t be here, writing to you, I wouldn’t have two nice and helpful, supportive, friendly, loving children. It doesn’t matter today the efforts I have made to raise them up. What matters is listening to my daughter playing the piano, having my son calling me weekly from another country where he went to study and meeting his love, is living there.

So, if I were…? I am. I am the woman, the mother, the fighter who is still a human being, regardless the hardships of the life, or, maybe, due to them?

Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Your Journey and Vision.

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Thanks so much for taking time to post this...... There are lots of lies we were fed with in our schools, we can see the damages adn I do not know why we still allow our children to pass through it. This is like the poems we used to recite then, Jack and Jill and I continue to wonder how the poems impact on our lives, some of them show more that the level of poverty we pass through and luckily one of the Transformation classes I attended in India addressed this, cant we see that we establish a lot of societal believes on blatant lies?

Last session in school, my 8 year old girl asked me what boys are more important thatn girls. I said who said so, she responded, my mistress, I threatened to follow her to school to challenge the mistress but my husband said they may be hostile to her and since then my daughters have been begging me to have a son, I told them I am happy with them except the decide to become rebellious in future.......Can you imagine a mistress telling her pupils that a boy child is more important than a girl child......To change our orientation, we must change our thoughts about about these stereotypes....we must....the Western World is even better that ours!

You are a very strong woman and I can see that you are doing a good job as a mother fulfilling the roles of both parents, May God bless you.....

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale Founder/Project Coordinator Star of Hope Transformation Centre 512 Road F Close Festac Town Lagos-Nigeria https:

The strangest thing is that I've been teaching English and French in school for already 23 years. It's a long time and I know the educational system is not perfect at all. The tragedy is it reflects our society and the values the society promotes. It's a closed circle. But, it depends on teachers on a great degree to speak to children about the appropriate things, to teach them the right notions, to show and make children realize that the world changes. Unfortunately, not all the persons working in schools can be called teachers, and in fact, not all of them should be there. I appreciate that you work with your children to explain to them the right things. We have to invest time, energy, patience in our children, every day and every night. Peace to you.

The first knowledge that we get in school remains in our mind for the lifetime and the concept that we get for the first time in our life is very hard to change. May be we need to change our education , we need to teach children the better way, we need to raise the voice for the equality!

I know the pain of your journey was the most difficult to pass but i must say you have made it to the much stronger way to face life. you have began to make your life much stronger! I know you can start the equality right from your home by teaching your son and daughter the value of equality!

Peace,

Nilima www.nilichari.wordpress.com

You are 100% right about teaching our children the right values, but more than that, we have to be their example. Most of all they mime what they see. On this site I hope to find, discuss, learn new, different ways of teaching the children the value of equality, as the children of today are the adults of tomorrow. Thanks.

I totally agree with you, most society face the menace of women not being vocal or knowing their right, valus most be uphold and children told the truth, I appreciate you experience, may be infuture I will write more, on you presentation Bintu

bintu

furious struggle , fruitful results . You have got your children and you exchange being proud of each other .

Sincerely

Sahar Nuraddin

follow me @snuraddin

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." - Helen Keller

Hi! Thank you to all of you for taking time and reading my thoughts. Republic of Moldova, being in the past part of the ex-Soviet Union, and also being an agricultural country, is still focused on the idea that the woman's duty is to keep the house. while the man is the ruler. How ridiculous! That is why we have to organise seminars, meetings, workshops, in order to make the women wake up and realize that if we got involved in our own social life, participating in decision-making processes we would use fully the chance to improve our life and make it more purposeful. In my opinion one of the best the way to do it, is working with the children. With gratitude, Eugenia

Hey Eugenie:

I was shocked when listening to your story! It happens everywhere (I finally find out)... "From the very first day of school the books represent the following picture the students have to speak about: mother is busy in the kitchen, grandmother is knitting, while the males of the family, father, grandfather and the boys are either playing chess, or reading the newspapers, or watching TV".

Even, when I watched Vampire Diaries (that Hollywood famous serial), it also happens like that... the girl washes the dishes... the boy watches TV...

But I believe your role as a teacher, and most of all, your role as a mother will give positive contribution -to create the change makers :)

So, keep on use your power! :)

Cheers: Mia

Eugenie, When I was in college studying sociology, a professor challenged us to think about privilege, and not just class privilege, but racial and gender privilege as well. Most of us in the class had never thought about the different forms of privilege and it was quite enlightening - almost unburdening! - to see how the way in which we were raised determined how we saw ourselves in life, and how much it empowered or disempowered us.

Thank you for writing about this issue, and for taking the time and the effort to educate your children about equality and equity where it matters most: in the home.

Peace,

Violeta