I was watching a documentary the other day which had all these celebrity women drumming up support for the end of negative cultural practices that many women go through in Africa and elsewhere. It made me think of all the stuff I’ve taken for granted my whole life that other women can’t do. So here is a list of things I’m grateful for.
1. I can vote
The list of candidates may not always be inspiring but at least I get to participate in the decision of who leads my country.
2. I can drive
Actually, I hate driving and haven’t done it in years. But if someone told me I couldn’t, I’d raise hell (Hello Saudi Arabia).
3. I haven’t been circumcised
My dad doesn’t think there is anything wrong with female circumcision but I’m grateful he didn’t apply his belief system in this particular issue.
4. When I get married, it will be to a man of my choice
Thank goodness I wasn’t married off at age 16. Honestly, what does a girl know about life at that age? And I don’t have to worry about unreasonable dowry demands being made on my fiancé either. Dad always says that he’s never going to enrich himself through his daughters. In the past whenever I told people that, they would laugh and say “Wait until you bring someone home and see his true colours emerge.” Three of my sisters have done just that and he didn’t ask for a cent. So I’m pretty confident he means it.
On a different note, I’ve always wondered why a guy who supports (or at least doesn’t disapprove of female circumcision) hates the whole concept of dowry. Yeah, my dad is complicated like that. Ultra traditional in some ways and surprisingly liberal in others. Ama culture is like a buffet where you can choose what to follow and what to disregard?
5. I have a bank account and can legally own property
When I think of all the women who toil on their farms from morning till night and have no say in how the income they generate is used, all the while knowing the land can be sold at any time for any reason, leaving them destitute, it makes me sad.
6. I can pursue further education
Not that I’m going to. The MBA was enough and the thought of going back to class fills me with dread. When invited to workshops, the first thing I want to know is if there is homework. Seminars are supposed to be fun you know. But if I wake up tomorrow and want to get a PhD, there’s nothing stopping me. Many women don’t have that choice.
7. I live on my own and no one raises eyebrows
In many parts of the world, women have to live under the protection of their father or their husband. Anything else is frowned upon. The word ‘chattel’ comes to mind. They are either accessories, assets or breeders, only valuable if they produce sons who will carry on the family lineage.
8. I have never felt inferior because I was born a girl
My parents decided early in their married life that they wanted six children, irrespective of gender. They ended up with five daughters and one son. My late maternal grandfather often hinted that he wanted them to name him i.e. get another boy but they never considered it.
My brother never received special treatment because he was the only son and we were never expected to wait on him hand and foot. We were all raised to believe that we could accomplish whatever dreams and goals we desired and our parents were prepared to educate us to the highest level we wanted to reach.
I attended a funeral recently where I realised how different cultures can be. Where sons are so important that losing a first born son is a tragedy and the only thing worse, is if he died without a son of his own to continue the lineage.
9. I have the choice to pursue a career or be a housewife
I love the fact that I live in a country where I can work in any field as long as I have the relevant skills. Despite these strides however, I feel sad when educated women are vilified for choosing to become housewives or stay-at-home mums. “Why are you wasting all the education that was invested in you?” is the common refrain. But wasn’t the goal of women’s liberation or whatever you choose to call it, to give women the freedom to be whatever they wanted? Career or homemaker? Both are valid choices as long as a woman is happy and has made her choice freely.
10. I have religious freedom
I can follow the religion I was raised in or change it or even choose not to follow any religion. In so many parts of the world religion dictates all that you are and will ever be from birth to death and everything in between including career, marriage, motherhood, dressing, politics, leadership, freedom of expression etc. I don’t believe that’s what God intended. He did give us free will after all.
If you are new to this blog, you can read my second novel Duel in the Savanna here. I’ve posted 13 chapters and will post new chapters every Monday and Friday. Enjoy and feel free to share with your friends and family.