As a child growing up, I had always enjoyed reading. Anything in prints has to be read and I remember one evening running under a vehicle without first trying to ascertain if the driver was in the car or not, to pick a piece of paper that I had been reading on the balcony that was blown away by breeze. Immediately I stretched my small eight year old frame underneath the car, the driver started the ignition to zoom off.
I can still hear the deafening cry of our neighbor as she called out to the driver who happened to be her husband from the kitchen window, to stop. I still shudder when I think of that experience. As an avid reader, one of my favorite sections in the newspaper was the job ads and obituary sections which I always read last after reading all other uninteresting stuffs about politics and religion and looking up pictures of the cover girls whose likes and dislikes were always honesty and lies.
What intrigued me in the vacancy section was another mini section in there with adverts that usually reads like this: ‘Man, 45, an accountant with a good job from the South-East looking for a tall and slim lady between the ages of 18-22 to settle down with. She must be beautiful, fluent in English and Igbo language and a good cook’. As a teenager reading this advert, am always tempted to call the contact number and meet with the advertiser but I never summoned courage. Then as I grew older, I began to see the different yardstick used to judge the male from the female and realized the danger of such adverts. Female Children and teenagers are exposed to lies that say they only need to be beautiful and good cooks and the ultimate goal is to ‘land’ a man.
This negative public perception and widespread gospel proved to be a barrier as it was continuously reinforced to the girl child that she cannot aspire to be anything more in life outside preparing herself for a man as she was not good enough to be in the sciences or sign up for technical courses. I strive continuously in educating young women on the importance of education, believing in themselves and excelling in their chosen career.
While the male folks still try to suppress our usefulness in the society and downplay our mental capabilities, online fora and media such as Pulse Wire, etc, creates a global platform for me to teach more of these young women to believe in their selves and want more out of life outside cooking and been beautiful. In Pulse Wire, I join the interactions that go on by women all over the world as they share their stories and encourage their fellow women: sisters, friends, daughters, mothers and wives on how they overcame these negative social expectations and became free. Freedom last!
Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Challenges and Solutions to Creating Change.