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A young girl’s quest for justice

I was 12 years old when I led my first ‘active non-violence’ action. I was in primary school class 7 when we got a new male class teacher who decided that where he came from “boys (I guess he meant men) do not wash floors”. It did not take any genius mind but the mind of a girl who knew injustice to know that was not fair. The culture in the school was that pupils were allocated daily duty to sweep the cemented floor from Monday to Thursday. On Friday evenings we did thorough cleaning with duty divided between boys and girls on alternate weeks. I had not known anything about ‘gender, girls rights’ etc. but knew justice had not been served so when the day for the boys came I led other girls to go out to play! The short of it all was that the class was not washed; we were punished but refused to clean the class. Eventually the teacher had to bow down to the small ‘stubborn’ girls who gave all the reasons why this was not fair. That incidence remains edged in my mind to date.
As I grew up l realized that most of the challenges I faced were I am a girl/woman. They include being extended family gatherings but when I speak out and a male relative moves on swiftly like ‘that is not important’. In one meeting I remember insisting on repeating my point until the person chairing the meeting had no choice but to listen and realize that my input was important. Sometimes I sit in groups of women and find them condoning some unfair actions against women and get tired of trying to speak out! I have worked with women on various issues including gender based violence and walked with some of them.
I have worked with women who have shown so much strength yet this may not be considered a worth news since they are ‘nobodies’. It is with this in mind that I knew I need to speak out more, speak out for the girl and woman who may never be known but their stories need to be heard. I came across World Pulse in 2008 during the AWID conference. I was not sure what ‘blogging’ is but signed in to be a member.
That’s how I found my voice!
This motivated me to share stories of women from Kenya and other places that I work with or interact with. I therefore started a personal blog. This has been very exciting but sometimes I find myself not sharing often enough. That’s my inspiration for joining VOF, to share and learn. I want to continue raising my voice on issues that I feel are unjust and interact with others with similar goal. I hope to write a book one day.
World pulse has put me in touch with the ‘women’s pulse’ in the rest of the world.


ayodele emefe's picture

Well told

Hello Sophie,

Knowing what you wanted from a very young age and pursuing that dream is an exceptional attribute which I commend you on. Well done and keep the lamp burning.

Your story touched a cord in me because it made me remember when I was growing up. I had two sisters (lost one about 6 years ago) with no brother. Growing up in a society (Nigeria) where the male child is favoured and held in high esteem, made me to be very defensive of the female child. I was aggressive towards any boy that dared mention or behaved superior to the female, especially my all male cousins who explore any chance they get to brag about how superior they are to the female.

But the funny aspect of the situation is that it is the females such as mothers-in-law and other women in the society who have male child/children that discriminate against the female child the most. And I will say that the situation can be quite pathetic in some areas especially where the male child is favoured in education, marriage, employment and in most cases inheritance.

We need voices like yours and please do not stop in making things happen.



"You are a champion and a hero. Do not think yourself any less"

Sophie's picture


Thank you Ayodele. I agree with you that often women are used to continue this patriarchy as agents of the structure. It is really sad for women and the least we can do is play our role to impart one, two three women in this life time

Sophie Ngugi
Child of the Universe

CeXochitl's picture

Very perceptive

Hi Sophie!

I loved your story of when you were a child, and as a teacher, I realize I often see young girls stand up for themselves. But something happens when they become teenagers and stereotypical gender roles become more prevalent in their actions. I don't know if it's because they are afraid to be seen by male peers as "not feminine enough", or they have accepted the stereotypical role, but I definitely think it's a problem. I think your voice is needed and hope to read more of your work. Good luck!

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