Despite cultural pressures, Tumanjong Miranda's father raised both his sons and daughters to champion gender equality.
“I call on all men to learn from my father so that we can attain a level of equality.”
Growing up in a community where girls were looked upon as weak, fragile, and incapable of handling property, one man made the difference.
Growing up in a community where a girl’s place was in the farm or kitchen, one man made the difference.
Growing up in a community where girls were not given the opportunity to go to school and sent into early marriage, one man made the difference.
Men and boys in my community did not treat girls with dignity and respect, but my father instilled his virtues into my brothers and that all made the difference.
In my community, boys were made to believe they were superior to girls. You could find girls doing all the house chores like cooking and cleaning, doing farm work and carrying heavy loads to and from the farms to markets; meanwhile, the boys stayed out drinking in bars and playing in football fields.
My father made my brothers know that boys and girls are the same; they all deserve equal opportunities and chances. He taught us that human rights were applicable to all and not just the male folks. He assisted my mother at home by teaching by example. He sent my mother back to school and took care of us while she was away.
Because of this, my brothers treated us the way we deserve to be treated: as human beings with equal rights. Whenever people saw my brothers going to the farm with us or cooking for the family, they made comments such as, “What are the girls doing?” or “What do you people want to show?” Their friends even made fun of them and called them weak guys. To them, it meant nothing because they upheld our family virtues and values. They knew that we (the girls of the home) deserved the best too. I admire the way my brothers treat and take care of their wives and children. They also instill this value in their children.
This is because of the difference one man made.
My parents educated both their boys and girls. They have shared their properties with all of us. I can boast of a piece of land which my father gave me. That is what makes him my biggest role model.
He talks to his peers about the importance of educating both boys and girls and about his reasons for sharing property equally. He believes in allowing girls to make their own life choices with respect to marriage and dowry-related rites. I remember an instance when his friend came to my home and asked my father why at my age, I was still not married. He responded by telling the man he was not going to trade me for selfish desires. Due to the way my father brought us up, community members gave him the name “Last Man Standing” or “Last Don”
I celebrate this great man because through him I am where I am today. He still fights against inequality, though he is aging. He encourages my walk in the fight against gender-based violence and inequality; he told me that the world will not be complete if there were no women and girls, and that they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.
I call on all men to learn from my father so that we can attain a level of equality, and so that girls will be given the opportunity to reach their full potential. This can only be done by educating and involving men and boys in the fight against gender inequality.
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