It's time for girls to stop taking a backseat
When I was born, I became another statistic, just another girl born into a world full of anticipating parents waiting for their first born son. Back in the 80s boys were still much preferred over girls and if I was born in China, I'd probably have been abandoned so lucky for me, I was raised but my parents went back into production. There was another disappointment before we finally had a boy in the house and it was the happiest day of my mother's life. It was as if all her prayers were answered and the doors of heaven opened and out of the shining rays, my little brother was delivered. He of course was spoiled beyond imagination and was at her side as if closely guarded in case he might get snatched by imaginary kidnappers. At times, I thought I'd sell him to the neighbours and then pretend I didn't know where he was but the opportunity never presented itself. I'm not complaining nor did I have a bad childhood where I was raped or tortured or grew up in a war zone. I grew up in a Pacific island in the middle of the Pacific ocean where I shared my room with my siblings and the occasional cousins that get sent from overseas to learn the culture and speak the language.
I was lucky to have been raised by parents who were liberal enough to educate us and even allowed religious diversity within our home. We were allowed to make our own decisions and base our own experiences on our best judgements. When I became too liberal, I was shipped off to a local all girls boarding school, where I was corporeally punished for every little thing that could go wrong, like showering out of the allocated shower time or sneaking around during lights out. Studying was the last thing on my agenda when every teacher seemed to be out to pick on me and I was always the second last or third last in the overall grading out of the entire high school. I used to think I was the dumbest student they had until I finished high school and entered a different school for my last year in high school. What do you know - I became one of their top outstanding students. I wasn't dumb after all. After high school, I worked for a year and thought I'd check out the night life and socialize a bit but during the late nineties, girls who went out without a chaperon were often considered promiscuous. Being female was a burden and culturally, girls were expected to stay virgins until their 21st birthdays which is often celebrated in the biggest ever festival of all times where mothers show off their handiwork in keeping their daughters prim and proper. You were expected to stay a virgin up until your wedding day.
There was so much expected out of girls that when you finally get your head around the fact that you're not a firstborn son or a son at all, you're thrown into a prison of sort by society and their expectation of how a girl should be raised and what her roles are. So even when you're raised quite liberally at home, you still have the rest of society plucking feathers from your wings when you try to fly free. If you're strong enough to develop thick skin to ignore the gossip around you and reflect the glaring stares and make it out to university for an even better future, then you're one of a handful of lucky girls. Others who can't afford to make it into high school especially from the smaller outer islands almost always end up going back to their small islands where they intermarry and raise young families with almost no income. They live off the land and sea and if by some miracle they find a way out through migration whether legally or illegally. It's a statistic that is not written in any history book or archeological text but found in the memory of oppressed young women who are not given the opportunity that most girls on the main islands have access to.
We can't all migrate overseas or attend university or have access to funds that support us in our journey. Not everyone will become successful in life and this is not a socialist world. There will always be a larger amount of girls left behind to pick up the pieces that most of us leave behind. That's why building our own economies and supporting sustainable development in small isolated communities is important. We must always remember the girls who carry the weight of our own decisions to become successful women. We must rise together if we are to eradicate poverty and the suppression of women and girls. We can't all be successful but we can all share the responsibility of becoming better carers for our own nations. In order to do this we must see men as our allies, our partners through thick and thin because without them, we can't build our perfect nations. With them we make stronger links and we combat our own differences. This can't be about men and women and gender differences, this is about harmonizing the future and it can only be achieved through team work.