Because I am a Girl I ask … for respect. If women, all women, could be given respect, no matter where they originate from, no matter what their religion, no matter how much money they have and no matter the colour of their skin, the world would be a far better place. As a young woman I understand how important it is to have respect for myself. If I’m honest, getting there has been a steep learning curve, because the way others treat you influences the respect you have for yourself. I have been lucky that I live in a society that, in general, has gender equality. However, there are women out there who live in misogynistic, patriarchal societies who have been degraded, abused and have had their self-respect knocked out of them. It’s not right.
Because I am a Girl I believe … in the power of education. Education is the key to progress. Educate a woman and it gives her the tools to move forward in life. My favourite lessons were in History, learning about Madame Curie, Rosa Parks and Emily Davidson. Their courage and span of influence is amazing. We women literally ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’. The past has shown us how just a few people can make a massive difference in the progression of state values. We owe it to these people, and to the women and girls still struggling, to fight discrimination.
Because I am a Girl I hope … that people will open their eyes. Somehow it has become socially acceptable to turn a blind eye to the plight of others in the world, unless there’s a fun programme on the television where you can text a donation. Although the premise of these programmes is great, what happens for the rest of the year? In my favourite book To Kill A Mockingbird there is a famous quote, ‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.’ If people were to adopt that idea then perhaps, they would have a different perspective on things.
Because I am a Girl I wonder … how I would have acted if I were in Malala Yousafzai’s shoes? Would I have fought for girl’s education at 15, knowing the consequences? My ego hopes yes, but in actuality I do not know that I could have been so brave at such a young age. The fact is she shouldn’t have had to campaign for education for girls, and she certainly shouldn’t have been shot in the head for doing so. It’s madness! I feel as an adult in this topsy turvy world, a responsibility towards these young girls. The fact that they are so far away does not mean that it isn’t happening and does not alter my concern. This is why the campaign, ‘Because I am a Girl’ is so important, it makes helping these girls easier for someone like me.
Because I am a Girl I dream … about making a difference in some way. It is hard to physically do things because of my current medical issues, but I strongly believe that I will make a difference one day.
Because I am a Girl I remember … how the world seemed as a child. There was no racism, no sexism, no homophobia, I had never even heard of such words. I would meet another child and just play with them, irrespective of anything else. That innocence is lost in today’s world and it’s so sad!
Because I am a Girl I like … real men. When I meet a man that is pro women’s rights, I think, there is a real man. A real man isn’t threatened by women’s capabilities; he respects and encourages them. Some of the people who are most passionate about empowering women are men. Just because we are fighting for women’s rights does not mean we need to segregate ourselves from all men.
Because I am a Girl I dislike … prejudice. Prejudice is a result of a lack of proper education. By ‘proper education’ I mean a method of teaching that is not biased. Prejudice thrives on the fear of the unknown, so teach students about all cultures/religions/sexual preferences and then it will become clear, there is nothing to be afraid of.
Because I am a Girl I feel … lucky. To be a woman is such a wonderful gift. To experience the nature of being a woman, from the female form to pregnancy, is a gift. The physicality of being a woman is fascinating and somehow mystical. It saddens me when our beautiful nature is regarded as ‘dirty’ . Let me explain. A woman has choices about how she lives her life and I’m fully behind that. However, when choices are imposed upon women, then that’s when I have a problem. Misogynistic practices can be rooted in tradition, such as the example of Temples and mosques not allowing women inside when they are menstruating. Others stem from the desire of Big Business to make women believe their bodies are inadequate, as in the aggressive anti-breastfeeding propaganda peddled by formula companies in the Philippines. Closer to home, the pornification of our culture means women feel the need to remove all their pubic hair or be considered ‘unclean’ by a whole generation of sexual partners.
Because I am a Girl I celebrate … beauty. ‘You will find beauty everywhere’ said Vincent Van Gogh and he was so right! When you are ill it is easy to feel self pitying or low. But I have decided to be happy. I look for the beauty in even the most mundane places. There is beauty in the way that light pours through my curtains, there is a beauty in the fact that flowers follow the sunlight on a window ledge, there is beauty in a perfect shot in a game of snooker on the television, there is beauty in the laughter of my nephews and nieces and there is beauty in the way I can share this with the world via the internet. I regard myself as incredibly lucky.