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“Girl children must be seen and not heard…”


For as long as I can remember, the saying “girl children must be seen and not heard” has been a part of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that it was done to purposely be malicious towards us; I think it was more along the lines of saying that we should not be loud and boisterous and overly exuberant. It was something that came about to help reinforce the gender stereotypes that exist - we should stick to our docile, quiet roles in society, you know, LADYLIKE behaviour.

As a child growing up, I was often told this as I had a natural ability to be everything that ladylike was not: when placed in a girly gown I would itch and twitch; when given bows and ribbons and cute girly hairstyles I would somehow turn them into a crazy mess – you get the picture. Looking back, I feel sorry for my mother because she had a tomboy not a perfect little angel. From an early age, I was a rebel with a cause that I could not articulate; now I can - I hated subscribing to gender stereotypes.

As I grew, I realised that I was different – I liked dolls and tea-cup sets but I also enjoyed remote controlled cars and books; when other girls wanted dresses and cute shoes for parties, I wanted those also but I would be just as comfortable in booths and pants. I liked being feminine but this did not mean I did not like boyish activities.

I was different, like so many other children I grew up with. We knew who we were but we did not want to be forced into these labels that society has created for males and females. This very subtle message that was taught to me (to us) at a young age helped to shape my view on gender stereotypes which have a very high possibility of leading to the disempowerment of women. I might not have been a very vocal advocate for the empowerment of women in the past but, in my own way, I rebelled.

As I entered university I became more enthralled with the idea of rebelling and met many women who inspired me. Finally, while I was studying in India I met my sister Stella Bella (some of you might know her as Stella Paul – a former voices of our future winner) while interning at an NGO that supported the empowerment of people, especially women at the grassroots. Seeing the possibilities and the many avenues I begun to think of the role I can play. My avenue came late last year, Stella introduced me to World Pulse…

I experienced, subtly, what disempowerment can do and have resolved to, in my own way, rebel against this. I think joining a network like World Pulse can help me to gain knowledge (PERSONAL knowledge) from my sisters around the world that I can share with those I am in contact with…networking, sharing, caring – progressing!



TJ's picture

the picture I used

I used that particular picture because it shows that I was able to find a balance for myself, a sense of peace and tranquility that I hope every woman will one day feel. It might not last forever with me and there will be trails but I reached that sense of personal peace once and I know that I can again whenever I've lost track of it and I know you all can...

Taha Mirani's picture


Amazing post. Loved it.

More power to your pen.


Taha Mirani

TJ's picture

thank u

As long as the inspiration is there the words will be written :) and there are lots of inspiration here!

ola.mahadi's picture

thid is lovely

Well done

It is never too late to try make your way to your dream and left up your expectation.
Sudanes Women Building Peace

TJ's picture

Thank you :)

Thank you :)

Sharontina's picture


I see such an interesting character in you dear. You call it rebel which can be shaped purely into activism for the women. I see you are moulding yourself to the widescreen. And i like that picture -very independent.


Merlin Sharontina

TJ's picture

I try...

I try :) one has to start somewhere :) Let's see what happens, eh? :D

I couldn't have said it any better TJ.
That's exactly what I think and have thought. Why are we labelled into a group that says we should be docile!!!!
Absurd isn't it?

We like climbing on trees, walls, running around as much as the next boy. We also like pretty clothes and other socially accepted girly stuff.

We need to let go off these gender stereotypes and let human beings flourish.

Keep talking girl.



TJ's picture

let human beings flourish!

the title says it all in my response to your comment :)


Pushpa Achanta's picture

Powerful narrative

Dear TJ,

I'm touched by your writing and hope to read more of it. Continue your courageous journey.

Love and warmth,

TJ's picture

thank you :)

Thank you :D it's not hard as I find some much inspiration to write on this forum :)

adeakins's picture

Let the Rebel Breathe

Take hold of the reigns and don't let go. No one should tell anyone what or where the role in the world is.

Thank you for sharing your story with us!


TJ's picture

*thumbs up*

Thank you :)

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