Aim for more, because, why not?

My Inspiring sister

As a girl born in a society strongly patriarchal as Nigeria, you're taught not to aim for much in life. As an Igbo girl child, it was drummed into your head to aspire to marry a rich man and have beautiful children. my brothers were taught to say things like, "When I grow up, I'll buy daddy a car". but as a girl child I was taught to say, "When I grow up and get married, my husband will buy a car for daddy". When I was younger, I didn't see anything wrong with this as it was something I had grown accustomed to.

Even in educating the girl child, the core Igbo man then didn't necessarily educate the girl child for greatness, instead he educated the girl child as some form of affluence. He was literally saying that he had enough money that he could even spare some to educate his daughter. Another reason for educating the girl child was make her more appealing to men and 'to make her bride price increase'. It wasn't unusual to hear statements like, ' no matter how much book you read all of them end in your husband's house' or 'any woman that is not married cannot speak in the society, no matter who you are'.

This is the society I grew up in. A simple girl who has learnt to dream but not too big so I don't scare my suitors away, a girl who had to make sure that I could take care of a home as that is my highest aspiration in life.

My view on life started changing when I got into Secondary school. Thanks to my parents, who value education and tried to give me and my siblings the best education they could afford, I went to good schools. I went to a single-gender secondary schools. That was when I started building my confidence and started going from a very shy and quiet child to a more confident outspoken teenager. My schoolteachers started explaining to us the importance of women in the society and that opened my eyes and the eyes of my fellow students to the opportunities life had to offer. Of course, there was the occasional sexist teacher, both male and female, but that did not blow out the fire that had been kindled in my heart. Going for inter-school competitions that included boys and winning some helped me understand that I was just as smart as the boys.

A very influential person in my life is my younger sister. She is bolder, more outspoken. When she came to the house and started talking about these lofty dreams and plans that did not include marriage it sounded like blasphemy. She was the first person I saw in real life refer to herself as a feminist. A word that at the time, and even now, is associated with unhappy women from broken homes. But she was not deterred by the rude remarks or the look of disapproval by different family members. She instead grew firmer in her decision not to settle for less and to fight to get more out of life.

It took a while, but I gradually started seeing things from her view and started to demand more from life and people around me. My parents are so supportive of our desires to get better and be more. I eventually reinvented myself and started seeing myself as more than just another nameless wife. In school I started volunteering in activities that promoted women and the girl child and joining organizations like this that gave women a voice.

There is still a lot of work to be done still and people are still misinformed on the concepts of Feminism and Gender Equality, but I would say that there is a change from my younger days and now. Young girls are now bolder in expressing themselves and dreaming big. They are aiming for things that younger me would not dare.

I am currently studying to be a doctor and still trying to lend my voice more to the women empowerment movement.

If I could say one thing to my younger self it would be, "Aim for more, because why not?'.

Our Voices Rising
Future of Security Is Women
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