This story is not about me. But in a way it is; It is about my daughter.
She was 11 and had just returned home to Nigeria after spending 2 years in the United Kingdom. It was her first term in secondary school and she was excited. I noticed she was growing up to be quite vocal and independent minded, which was rare for a girl brought up in Nigeria. I often got reports from her school that she questioned authority and was too independent!!! This report didn't bother me because I have always believed in children being brought up to be independent quite early.
One day, she came back from school looking a little sad. I asked her what the problem was. They had an election in her class to select the class captain and only herself and another boy showed interest. She won the majority of votes. However, the lady teacher that conducted the election told her she couldn't be the class captain because she was girl. So the boy was made the class captain and she was made an assistant. Coming from England, she understood rascism, she understood how your race/colour could make you a second class citizen, but she didn't understand how being a female, in her own country with similar people could also be a disadvantage. She asked; "Mum, why can't girls lead? Are we somehow inferior?"
I was at loss for words. You see, I have only 2 girls and when I tell people I am not interested in having more children many times they ask me; "Won't you try for a boy"? My usual answer will be; "why must I have a boy? What do I need a male child for?" Often times, it is in front of my girls. My 2 girls see me achieving what my male colleagues couldn't. They see me being independent and they didn't know the cost to me. How do I explain to her that Nigeria, even fellow women simply believe that the female gender is inferior to the male? How do I then explain to her to her that they are also wrong?
It was difficult, but I explained to her. A few weeks afterwards, she came to me, beaming with smiles. The male class captain had not lived up to expectation and though he was still the captain de jure, she was the captain de facto. I still felt sad, that this was a young girl that was eager to make a change in her little environment but she had to stand behind a male to do it. We left Nigeria 2 years after that and went back to the UK. My now 15 year old daughter has blossomed. She has found her voice and is projecting it. She is a gender equality advocate among other passions. She has since learnt to stand up and fight for what she believes in no matter the cost.
She is my role model and one of the reasons I advocate for gender equality.