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They say I’m acting like a boy. I say I am still a girl.

People often tell me that I will never go farer than being in my kitchen. I say I will change the perception because I will show that I also can do what men can. They laugh at me. I never laugh at them. I just do what a man does. They say I’m acting like a boy. I say I am still a girl.
They say a girl who comes from a poor family should not even think of getting high education because it would be such a waste of time. They pointed at my eldest sister who quit school at grade 4 and my second sister who failed “grade 12”exam, ended up helping my mother with a small business. They asked what I was doing and why I didn’t see that girls had no future rather than being a housewife. I say I will never quit school because I am a girl.
My mother, illiterate, taught me every rule to be a good girl. I should not talk or laugh loudly. My teeth should not be seen while laughing. My walk should not be heard. I should not question much, but listen. I asked her why. She said it was the tradition. “Do men have to do so?’’ I asked. She said no. I told her I would not follow the tradition that made me unequal to men. She got fainted.
When I got a scholarship to study abroad, my parents did not want me to go. I told them that I needed to go, to bring changes. My mom asked me why I had to bring changes. I said, “Because I am a girl.” I left. She cried. People watched.
I came home to do a summer project, and gave a speech about being a female leader. I talked about how women should be treated, and what the tradition really meant. Many men did not like the speech; but you know what? They went home, told their daughters, “Go to school sweetheart, I’ll do the cooking and the dishes.”
To my mom, I wish you could understand that I am born to be equal.
To everyone, “A girl is still a person. Why shouldn’t she be treated equally?”

Comments

Sarvina's picture

Dear Saren, Thanks so much

Dear Saren,

Thanks so much for sharing your powerful article to us! It is really true that my relatives also said to me when I was in secondary school. Thus I have been encouraged from my beloved parents that daughter pls don't care what people said to you - the best thing and will in your life is Education. So I have never made my parents hopeless and I want to show the other people that even I am a poor girl from a poor family but I have dream and vision to make change.

I have been so moved after reading your article - I found your passion and strength...keep up your good work!

Love,

Sarvina

Regards,

Sarvina from Cambodia
VOF 2011 Correspondent

sarenkeang's picture

Thanks a lot bong Sarvina for

Thanks a lot bong Sarvina for your comment!
Frankly, you're one of my inspirations. Reading your story, I've felt less a lone.
Very glad to know you!

Jan K Askin's picture

Still a Girl

Dear Saren,

The lines "They say I’m acting like a boy. I say I am still a girl" could make headlines. Where did you find the inner strength to question the tradition of your family and your culture in order to stand up for girls' education and for equal opportunity for women.

Keep up your good work. I send you positive energy.

Your sister,

Jan

Jan Askin

sarenkeang's picture

Thanks Jan for your helpful

Thanks Jan for your helpful comment. I also think the line you recommend is better to be the headline, so I changed.
My inner strength came first when I learned that my mother had been awfully criticized by my father's relatives. I felt humilated for my mother, and so I told myself that I had to study no matter what. Then I saw women outside my home suffering much more such as one of my cousins. She's cursed, violated by her husband, also because she depended on him. Thus I realized that women in my country were undervalued. I told myself I had to do sth at that time.

ana hamuka's picture

you are so brave! thanks for

you are so brave! thanks for sharing your inspiring story with us.

xx ana

sarenkeang's picture

Thanks for reading! Frankly,

Thanks for reading!
Frankly, I think I'm not brave enough yet. I know I have to find some more strengths to be able to speak up more because only few people have heard my voice at the moment.

Bogi's picture

wow

HI,

I am at my work place looking for inspiration for a a paper work and I read you.... wow, i have tears in my eyes, about the reality women live in all around the world and for all those voices that will never be heard. But i am smiling like and idiot for all the voices, as unique as strong as yours. I think your mom understands you, maybe is just afraid to admit that she is born equal too, what would that conviction bring into her world?

I wish you all the best!!!

Like minded fellow being

enida

Bogu7

sarenkeang's picture

I think so too

Yeah, maybe my mum does understand me thought it's not whole. I'll always be at her side to help her out.
Thanks for your wonderful comment and the wish!
Best of luck with your paper!

sallysmithr's picture

Good for you!

I'm so glad that you did not give up and that you have helped others to believe they have options as well! I think your story was great and thank you so much for sharing!!!

Sally Smith

sarenkeang's picture

Thanks for reading and for

Thanks for reading and for your comment!

Hin Kunthea's picture

I see your strength,

Dear Saren,

When I read your story, I have more energy to struggle for change, Me too I just think that after I have two sons, my duty is not far from kitchen and house work, I will not have any energy less to peruse my education as I dream to be best writer Educator. now I see you have build my strength.

While I write to you is the time that I need to bring food to my love kids who wait me to go back home from working break at noon.

Thanks for your shearing your story

Best

Kunthea

sarenkeang's picture

You're wonderful

I don't know if I can do better than you if I'm in your condition. Honestly, I've never been in a kitchen yet. Picture you writing this comment to me, and bringing food to your children, i dont feel like you're just a woman, but one of the best mothers and wives, because you're doing both important tasks to prove that women are more than just housewies.
Thanks for your truthful comment.

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