#YoungWomenSay is a collaboration between Say It Forward and The Torchlight Collective in support of International Youth Day (#IYD2016). This campaign features blogs from incredible young women from around the world about their experiences overcoming adversity. Each story shared will spark a $5.00 donation to the Midwives Forward campaign of the Family Care International program of Management Sciences for Health.
the #youngwomensay collection
Though my journey has just begun, I hope part one of my life’s story inspires many others, especially girls and young women, to join me on this journey. Do not ever feel greatness does not come from slums.
As a girl growing up in a rural community, I never had resources or power to help out my peers. This meant I witnessed a lot of suffering. All the same, I realized eventually that my voice is a very powerful tool that I can use to help girls my community, and that drove me to action.
There were days I walked miles to and from high school, which was miles away in the neighboring community. There were days when I sold coconuts in the village and snacks on the school bus in order to make money for school fees. Despite this hardship, I was determined to complete high school.
Being a volunteer was something rather new for our generation, and so were civic education, youth rights and the concept of participation. For that reason most of our parents had little knowledge and understanding of why this was important to me and my peers, as participation had political and negative connotations and sex and sexuality were generally a taboo.
I made friends and enemies alike but the message was clear. I was a force to reckon with, a girl who had grown into a young woman in a not so supportive society who wanted the world to be different for other girls.
It seemed like the inequalities for girls were abundant no matter where I looked. I started to realize that something was wrong, that there was a power trying to keep me down and that didn’t want me to be confident and strong.
These initiatives are empowering because these young people are able to openly talk about sex through comprehensive sexuality education modules and make choices about their bodies. The programs are also reassuring for a brighter future in the women's rights movement because girls can openly discuss and suggest solutions to their own problems.
Sharing from my experience I would like to say that young women should be able to challenge the society, social norms, and the status quo. Challenge the structures. Challenge people who challenge you! Keep doing what you do and one day people will see what you mean and realize the impact you are making. We can’t make everyone happy, nor should we be required to try.
I believe that every woman is powerful, and just needs to explore her inner strengths. This is a story of an ordinary woman who opened her eyes in the very normal middle class family, where no women was allowed to seek/find and or explore her abilities to challenge the family norms and traditions against women.
I also wish I’d known that I’m the most important person for me. Learning now to be OK, really OK with who I am, to do anything. That it’s always possible for me to be afraid, because fear is part of been a human being, so that I have to learn to see that thing (or thought) that scares me and find the way to be boosted by this fear instead of being paralyzed by it.