”12th October is celebrated as the Day of the Girl Child. But to me, everyday is for the Girl Child.
I was once her, some part of me is still her.
And I see her in my Daughters, Sisters, Cousins and Nieces”.
Dear Girl Child, my heart is full of grief and remorse; my eyes swollen with unshed tears from knowing that you are very much likely to go through what we went through in our journey to adulthood.
It breaks my heart into a million bits.
We; the women of the millennials have failed to make any sacrifices to ensure you get better opportunities than we did. We failed to fight or make any attempt to end the cultural and traditional dungeons that would deprive you of having the opportunities that we never had.
Thus, on behalf of all of us, I wish to tender apologies for this failure because as far as history and posterity is concerned, there is no excusing it; we failed, and we are truly sorry.
We, the women of the millennials have not only allowed society to continue to sell to you the lies it sold to us, but we are today telling them to you ourselves. Let me remind you of some of them:
1. You need not bother about getting good grades or having an ambition, you will end up in the kitchen.
2. Your paradise lies below the feet of your husband.
3. Getting married does not stop you from pursuing an education.
4. Your must important purpose in life is to get married, give birth to children and raise them.
5. Society does not respect an unmarried woman.
Do all these sounds familiar? I am sure they do. Well let me tell you this, they are the lies that’s been sold to us, our mothers before us, and their mothers before them. It is a generational inheritance that needs to be stopped, and it is my hope that your generation of women will.
Now lets critically look at some of those lies in the form of advices.
1. Society telling you, that you don’t need good grades, or an ambition is the first lie. Same society told our mothers they don’t need an education, we have been told all we needed was literacy to read and write, today, many of us are languishing in poverty depression and regret because of that. You need good grades, you need an education, you need an ambition and getting it should be your first priority.
2. Your paradise lies beneath your husband’s feet? What then is the fate of Mary the mother of Jesus and all the other good, faithful, pious and unmarried women in history?
3. Your purpose in life is to get married, have children and raise them? Is not true either because every woman can have children but not everyone man or woman can fulfil your God’s given purpose in life. You see, each one of us, man and woman have been given a purpose, a vision in life and it is our responsibility to find what that purpose is and fulfil it. Being a woman does not lift that responsibility from you, but alas! Very few people both men and women alike have discovered their purpose in life much less fulfil it. You have a purpose in life, you have a mission that only you can accomplish. Any woman can be a mother, but no one can accomplish your mission because God who created you gave it to only you. Do not let anyone rob you of that purpose, it is your responsibility to find out what it is and achieve it.
4. Marriage does not hinder your pursuit of education; is another lie. The moment you get married, everything about you becomes secondary. Your life, your dreams, your aspirations and who you are automatically takes the back seat. Traditionally and culturally, your submission to your Husband comes first. And by the time you have children of your own, you come third, because they come first, their Father second. As such, naturally, you, your life, ambitions and aspirations remain at the bottom of the list for years, and sometimes for the rest of your life. Being a student in Nigeria is hard enough, but being a student, wife, mother and sometimes a worker elsewhere is ten times harder. You can hardly give in your best, because it is already exhausted, therefore you are likely to remain not even second best; but somewhere below that.
5. Society does not respect unmarried women is a farce. It is just blackmailing and cheap intimidation. Everyone has the right to earn respect and be respected regardless of gender.
The list is inexhaustive, as the conspiracy and manipulation to deprive you of fulfilling your truest potential is manifold. Yes, it is a conspiracy because somehow the men folk seem to have the ridiculous notion that when women gain power and prominence, they will oust them. You may not believe me because it sounds outrageous, but it is indeed true. Ask Honorbale Gudaji Kazaure and the many other women who had gone through the patriarchal system of injustice and manipulation to remain beneath the ladder at all cost.
When you look at the world, you will see that the society whose women are happier, fulfilled and relevant progresses more. Even in marriages, the family progresses more, is more stable and happier only if the woman is; for verily no nation that mortgages lives and rights of its womenfolk achieves greatness.
Dear Girl Child, my heart and eyes are heavy knowing the tasks that lies ahead for you in your journey to adulthood.
It is my hope that my letter to you would have in some way prepared you for what lies ahead and that when you get there, you would be prepared to face it square in the face and do what’s right for you.
I also pray that one day, our society would hold its head high of having to educate, enlighten and empower its women; YOU.
And that patriarchy end with US; the millennials.
Hawwah A Gambo
Is a Journalist and Social Enterprenuer