My story began 26 years ago when my father took my brother and I to pre-primary school. I was then aged 5 years. From this date, my father provided me equal opportunities – just like my brother – in my schooling. He would buy text books and stationery in pairs. He was there to help me with my homework. I knew not of any differences between my brother and I – save that he was male and I was female. And this made me compete with him throughout my primary school. I later joined a girls’ national school, hundreds of miles away from my hometown, for my secondary education. And my father supported me through this four-year journey. He was always there for a parents-visiting day that came once in three months. This support gave me the courage to read hard and the hope that I could succeed. And so I did. I joined Law School two years later; got admitted to the Bar a few years after that; and I just finished my Master Degree in Laws in one of US prestigious university a year ago. I now work as an independent Legal and Development Consultant in Kenya.
My background informs the passion I have for women and girls of my community. I consider myself very lucky to have gone up to university. Many girls in my Muslim Swahili community found in the Coast of Kenya end their education at primary level. A handful of those that make it to secondary level join tertiary schools. And this is a tendency replicated in most parts of the country. Early marriages, unwanted pregnancies, poverty, preference of male to female education are some of the reasons that make girls discontinue their schooling. And so hopelessness, recycled poverty, gender-based violence, inadequate sense of the future and the world engulf these girls who are the women of tomorrow. My heart bleeds when I see loss in the eyes of young mothers – sometimes already divorced. And it pains more because I am one of them – by sex among other reasons. I, therefore, envision setting up a girls’ leadership academy in my hometown. The academy – akin to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa – will mould girls from across the country into finding their voices.
Having more girls and women who can make informed and independent decisions about their lives is what this world needs. The world needs strong, brave and courageous women who live their lives to the fullest. Such a world is poised for sustainable development. So as I amass resources to make this grand idea into fruition, I continue to exercise my voice. And one way is to share the correct position on Muslim women with the rest of the world through Web 2.0. That is why I applied for the Voices of our Future. I want to learn just how to create that great informational blog.