Living in a world that corners women into the kitchen and carrying the label to bear children is a curse and it is about time we change that narrative. I once read a book where the main character, a female, wanted to go to school but society and tradition told her otherwise. Her father rhetorically asked her whether one can cook and feed books to her husband – clearly reminding her of the place society determines she belongs.
This is the exact grand narrative we need to dismantle when it comes to the girl child. This story was in a Nigerian setting, yet it reminded me of the spectrum I grew up in – a space where women were not even given the benefit of the doubt to dream and become who they want to be. It reminded me of how easily women and their dreams are shot down by society because being successful and a breadwinner is regarded as the job of the male character.
Zozibini Tunzi said ‘’we need to teach young girls to take up space; make them leaders and people who are not afraid to become who they are’’. This goes hand-in-hand with what Chimamanda Ngozi Andichie said, “We teach girls to shrink themselves; to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition but not too much. You should aim to be successful but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the men”.
This is the exact narrative that grooms girls to become smaller and never aim higher than a male. This is the exact chronicle that spreads weakness over the girl child’s mindset that her dreams are too big and threatening. Thus, it has to begin with the millennial mothers, sisters and aunts; teaching these girls how to take up space and become leaders is our job.
When we teach young girls to take up space, we should allow them to make mistakes, as it is a paramount life lesson. To put oneself into a space that does not scream woman-friendly and become a leader, it requires mistakes – mistakes to learn from but also mistakes that swallow the girl child in freedom of self-expression and independence.
Teaching women how to take up space and cementing themselves is important, as it allows the chance for the narrative of equality to be implemented. This is not only because it allows women to do what men can do, but because it allows the girl child to be accepted just as men are. It also provides empowerment in our own rights as women, without having to be overshadowed by men.
Through teaching the girl child and allowing them to make mistakes is of paramount importance because it creates the space for discussions that are benefitting to women. It further allows engagement between a collective of women that has been long denied the chance to exist outside the societal norm.
Here is to taking up space and making it our own.
2020-02-07 09:41:12 | 1 months ago