Give me Yeast and Watch me Rise!
It wiggled and wobbled. It knew not its purpose, still it glided over the white surface. The image looked like a flower, then it was given hands and soon a face appeared. It was the pen in my hand - just making indistinct lines on paper. Then, it found a path and started making words. The words became a voice, speaking of life.
Everyone must have something you are passionate about. It is that passion that drives you on, without it you could just sit in a place and dwindle. The discovery of that passion is essential to self-fulfilment. I found my passion in writing and as I gained insight into the issue of women rights I started writing gender-sensitive stories and articles that explored the confines limiting women all over the world. My personal vision is to achieve excellence in all that I do - to hone my writing skills; to write books; to make my voice heard on pressing issues that will impact positively on women and men all over the world.
As a budding academic, I see education as one of the ways in which a woman is empowered. While shopping for ingredients to bake bread, I went into one of my frequent introspective moments. I looked at the middle-aged woman measuring the flour. She was uneducated like most women traders who stopped attending school at the primary or secondary school level. However, she had a means of livelihood which is something not all uneducated women have. In my community, there is an influx of teenage illiterate mothers, sometimes single parents with no form of employment and who sometimes take on unstable menial jobs or the age-long profession of hawking their bodies.
At home, as I mixed the sugar evenly into the flour, a vision began to form in my mind. I was going to make whole wheat bread but not everyone has to bake or eat that kind of bread. There is banana bread, corn bread and white bread. In a similar vein, not every woman would be able to go through a "four-walled" educational system. In Nigeria, the government often sets up measures to curb problems - a method of treating the symptoms and ignoring the disease itself. In the past some female politicians have embarked on programs to rehabilitate sex workers. This is a good thing, but why are there no measures in place to help them in the first place before they resort to prostitution?
As I ruminated on this issue, the idea of a skill-based educational system was birthed in me. It is often difficult for some women or girls who have had their education interrupted at a particular level due to financial constraints and other cultural barriers, to return to a formal school system. Most times, they are already too old and feel out of place or they have become stuck in old ways to learn something radically different. I dream of a system which will adopt this kind of people, where they can learn skills that can lead to empowering enterprises. The women would be taught to read and write and tutored in the area of their interests such as tailoring, hairdressing, trading, commercial transportation, etc. After the training, they would be given funds to set up their own businesses. The failure of adult education in Nigeria is mostly due to its unfit curricula. I once heard of a program that met that description of unfitness - they were teaching uneducated women to use the computer when they could not even read. We need a pragmatic system – one that results in benefits for its participants.
I desire to be a correspondent of the Voices of Our Future for several reasons. First, I believe this will broaden my writing opportunities and expose me to greater influences. I have worked mostly with literary fiction. Therefore, I see this as an opportunity to explore new areas. Just like the process of baking bread, without the yeast, the dough will fall, so also without the proper training and mentoring, my vision of seeing women in my community empowered may not see the light of day.
Give me yeast and watch me rise!