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Standing up to Patriarchy My Way!!!!

I enter a class, and the students glance at me quickly then return to their previous posture. I stand next to the board and the students look at each other with a sense of confusion. I settle my bag at a table, and begin to unzip my bag to take out my laptop and I place it on the table. Whispering starts and the students are asking each other what’s happening. A female student so bold to stand in front of the class, how dare she!!! that’s just repulsive. I write my name on the board and face the students and tell them “welcome everybody; I am your lecturer for this course”. The whispering becomes loader and laughter takes over the quiet scene. Male students start to giggle and make sarcastic jokes. “A female lecturer” one student says loudly “Are you kidding me.” I tell them to settle down, and yes a female teacher and well qualified for the job, and I continue with my lecture.

This happens every time I enter a new class. A woman that stands in front of men and actually talks louder so that male students can hear her voice is considered shameful. It’s rather difficult for Somalis to accept women who stand next to a man or in front of a man and speak up and let their voice heard. It’s unacceptable and against the Somali culture they say. Although the Somali culture is rich and beneficial in many ways, however when it comes to women, it is very discriminative and extremely harsh.

It takes quite a few minutes for the students to absorb and digest the idea of having a female lecturer in a university. It’s difficult to manage some students because post-war generation seems to lack discipline and the teacher has to demand respect and it’s never given without a price; and most of the time that price is yelling, expelling students from the class, and other scare tactics that physically exhausts anyone who decides to join the education sector. It becomes more difficult to manage when half of the class thinks you are inferior to them and not qualified to educate them. The sarcastic comments and the harassment continue but I am patient. I have always used a peaceful method, and explain to them why their behavior is not acceptable in a university environment. I tell them about Malaysia and my experience with international students across the world. I motivate them to go beyond the textbook and learn more. I am keen to teach and I prove that I care about them. Surprisingly, after few weeks my gender stops being the issue, and I am just an educator.

Before I joined the University of Bossaso, I applied to another university but I was refused to teach there. I remember the dean explaining the reasons why women are not fit to teach at a university. He was not saying it’s his belief but he explained the general view in his opinion. He told me the male students will not accept a female teacher. Some will say “A woman stands in front of us to educate us, NO WAY; she is inferior to us so we will not accept this.” I told him everybody is entitled to their opinion, and I continued to add “but to my understanding you are the management and they are the students so if they are dictating who is to be hired for teaching, then I would think the school is basically run by the students not the management.” He took a different approach this time and told me, some would argue and say “Well, we will not be able to hear her voice; and her delicate feminine voice will not reach across the room”. I responded immediately and said to him “Well that is surely not a problem in today’s world because microphones are available in the market and it will enable a female voice to reach not only across the room but across the university”. Everybody smiled at that comment and the dean continued to lead the conversation and explain the shortcomings of females in the society. He told me that women don’t really make use of their education and they waste it. He said “we produce many female graduates but all of them get married and sit at home and don’t try to get an employment. They waste their time and our resources on education but they don’t benefit from it. We allow them to teach at the Islamic Studies faculty because it has more than 50% female students, and we even beg them but they don’t want to.” I was agitated, angry and I couldn’t help myself but debate him at this point. I reminded him that I came to apply for a position, I explained to him “you are not giving me a chance and you are throwing at me all the nonsense and prejudiced opinions of the students, and perceived opinions I might add because I don’t really know it’s actually their opinion, rather than your claims, I have no other evidence supporting it. Furthermore, if the female students decide to get married and stay at home, that doesn’t mean their education is going to waste but they chose to educate and teach 6 or 7 students at home. I know my mother was educated and she invested a lot of time in our education as she was our tutor.” I reminded him that educating a girl, a woman or actually any human being is never a waste of resources.

Somalia has a long way to go when it comes to reaching equality and we have our work cut out for us, but we; the activists, the peace makers and the human rights defenders, are not giving up on this goal.

I am so glad that the political sector is improving due to pressure from the international community. We have two elected female high officials and one of them is the prime minister of Somalia. It’s a huge step forward that paved the way for other sectors to follow.

I am determined to prove that men and women are equal and I strive to show other girls that they too can make a difference. We don’t need to wait for men to give us; we can make it happen for us.

Comments

Susan K.A.'s picture

Thank you for your piece

Dear Deqa,

I am so inspired by your story, your courage in standing up to patriarchy. You are a peace-maker, a trail-blazer. You see things so clearly, what must be done to change the status quo. Truly, you have your work cut out for you. Thank you for not becoming discouraged, for having faith that your courage will make a difference. On behalf of girls around the world, I thank you.

Hugs,
Susan

______________________________________________________________________________

"I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being."
-Hafiz

Deqa's picture

Many Thanks

Dear Susan
Thank you so much for reading my post and for your kind and encouraging comments. I learned at a young age to be optimistic and always look at the bright side and the encouragement I receive just increases my optimism and I know I can see the light but not just at the end of the tunnel but throughout the way.
I noticed you are new to this platform, welcome my dear. I read that you are interested in peace and justice and I can assure you that you came to the right place. WP offers wide range of opportunities to transform the world and give voice to the silenced and ill-treated individuals across the globe. I met amazing brothers and sisters through this platform.
I certainly look forward to reading more from you.
By the way, we have similar interests, I read that you are a graphic designer, although I am a programmer but I love all kinds of design and Graphic Design is at the top of my list.
Again thank you for your support and encouragement my dear.
Love
Deqa

Debra K Adams MA's picture

whoop of joy!

I am so proud of you, Deqa! You rock! I love it when a strong woman stands up for herself, knowing full well just how difficult it can - .I have walked in your shoes, my friend, in many different settings.

Please know that your achievements will not go unnoticed, because there are some females in the classroom who are watching you and will someday they will mimic your courage!

Keep going Deqa!

"Be the change you want in the world." Gandhi

Debra K. Adams, MA
See my vizify bio! https://www.vizify.com/debra-k-adams-ma-pdv-cws
Survivors In Service: Self Empowerment Strategies (SiSSeS)
Consultant/Speaker/Author & Owner/Founder

Deqa's picture

Many Thanks

Thank you so much for your constant encouragement Debra. I draw inspiration from many people and you are at the top of that list.
I look up to you my dear and I will be honored to be your protege.
And if i can influence few other girls into believing in their abilities and standing up for their rights then my efforts have paid off. Thank you for your constant support my dear.

Love
Deqa

Mukut's picture

Proud of you

Deqa,

I am so proud of you for standing up against patriarchy and questioning the system. Your country will do wonders with more women like you.

Super happy to read your post. Keep it up !

Lots of love,

Mukut Ray

Deqa's picture

Many thanks

Mukut

Thank you my dear for your support. It means so much to me to have the support of my WP sisters. It is the fuel to my passion for change. I was reading through your posts too, powerful, elegant writing, and simply inspirational. Kudos to you.

Love
Deqa

Nusrat Ara's picture

All the best in your

All the best in your endevours. Be the guiding light.

Love

Nusrat

Deqa's picture

Many thanks

Thank you my dear nusrat for your support. I appreciate it.
Love
Deqa

Diane Ezeji's picture

You are so strong

I also teach, but I don't think I would have the courage that you have shown! You are impressive and strong. Keep going! My article is right next to yours on the world pulse site.

Diane Ezeji

Deqa's picture

Many thanks

Thank you my dear for stopping by and for you kind and endearing comments. You sure are impressive too I read your post and found it heart warming and extremely educating.
Love
Deqa

Wendyiscalm's picture

Hi

Hi Deqa,

I love this article. I love YOU !

Ubuntu (I am who I am because of who we are together),

Wendy

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

Deqa's picture

Many thanks

I love you too Wendy. Thank you dear for stopping by. And kudos for your work in Zambia. I really appreciate your work.
Love
Deqa

Sutanuka Banerjee's picture

Beautiful

Your resistance to stereotyping has its own unique way which exhibits courage, patience, perseverance and determination.

Love

Sutanuka

I live in my convoluted mind....

Deqa's picture

Many thanks

Thank you for reading my post and for your kind comments my dear. I have read through your journal and loved it, especially the poem for your future daughter.
Love
Deqa

Sangita Thapa's picture

Pateince!

Thank you for maintaining this patience and strength to persist despite the overwhelming taunts and giggles of male students. Patriarchy has rotten the minds of children, youths and elders alike. Im proud that you stood against it and dared to be an example. And i absolutely support your point that investing in the education of a girl, a woman or any human being is never a waste of resources. Wonderful piece! Keep writing dear!

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