On the 12th of July,1997, a girl was born somewhere in Mingora, Pakistan. For few summers,she enjoyed the beauty and calm of her hometown. She loved education so much and decided to make something of herself in a society where her sex was relegated until the storm came in form of the Taliban, whose invasion of her village rocked the peace she had always known. She was threatened with death for her love of education and her boldness in trying to be the voice the common girl-child needed. However she waxed stronger and became bolder with each passing day. On the 9th of October,2012, she was shot but she survived. Her name is Malala Yousafzai and her famous speech titled,”How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?” is a wake up call to every girl-child facing the same difficulty of accessing education in the world today.
There are many Malalas in the world today,the dead and the alive, the broken and scorned, in India being forced into child marriages, in Cambodia, being raped and forced to work in rice fields or as prostitutes, in Afghanistan, being bathed daily with acid while walking even in groups, in Papua New Guinea, where violence is almost a mainstay and the village judicial system relying on customary laws do little to rectify this grave situation, in Haiti, where extreme poverty makes it excusable to keep the girl child as a labourer while she and the rest of the family sweat to send the “golden boy” to school, in Egypt, where girls do not even recognize the way to school anymore, in Guatemala, where the need to earn a living outweighs the expense and time that obtaining an education requires and even if a family can afford to send at least one child to school,the “golden boy” is again chosen. In my country,Nigeria, where a Governor somewhere in the Northern axis, sees it as a norm to rid a young girl of 12 of her pride,making haste in teaching her the pleasures of matrimony rather than the basic arithmetics she needs to learn,while hiding his psychopathic act under the delusion of a veil called religion.
In my country,we support our actions,may I call it craziness, with two things, RELIGION and TRADITION. This is what the society lives by and paradoxical as it seems,these two variables,go hand in hand. This is why a terrorist blows up a whole cathedral and even goes ahead to kill his fellow brothers,practising the same religion,yet claims,”it is the will of Allah/God”. We have no reason for most of our actions,so we just act. It is of course,this same reason,a Yoruba man and an Igbo man tell their girls that they belong in the kitchen,emphasizing that their lives begin and end in that same kitchen,while they spend their resources on educating their male children. So I ask, how dare a man dictate the perfect sex to acquire education? How dare he take away my basic right to education? How dare the society spit on me and lift her nose in the other direction when I walk by because I am a girl? How dare these men claim to be any different from the Taliban? How dare our mothers sit back and accept so archaic a mentality that our sex should be relegated? How dare anyone try to take away my fundamental right as human?
A study by the University of Ibadan linked the imbalance in boys and girls’ participation in schooling to the long held belief in male superiority and female surbodination. This is not surprising because as said by a father’s friend, there was a time in the premier’s history,when you could hardly see a lady carrying books,meaning ladies were almost literally absent from the school community. This points to the same thing being discussed,that girl-child education, basically female education in general, has never being given much attention from the outset.
Dear readers, need I tell you of the importance of girl-child education in a nation’s welfare? It is inexhaustible! I won’t give you what the world thinks on Google,I won’t tell you of the increase in productivity and earning it would bring,neither will I emphasize its poverty reducing effects nor its contribution to democratization because these big words won’t do justice to my agitation. Instead I am going to remind you of the words of Brigham Young that says,” you educate a man, you educate a man; you educate a woman, you educate a generation.” We all like to stand in front of a large crowd in stuffy suits and choking ties, while we speak like Cicero and the great Martin Luther King but we can hardly go two paragraphs and few punchlines, without quoting the wise Maya Angelou. We hardly never say a complete sentence while describing a great leader without nominalizing the great Margaret Thatcher. Liberia will never forget her great mother,President Johnson. We are no longer the same women we used to be! Can’t we see this? Do we not see that we are becoming the men we dream to marry? This says something about us,we are great,powerful. We are indispensable!
A food for thought, if acquiring education is one of our fundamental human rights, then isn’t denying us of that priviledge,denying us of what we need to live,Oxygen? If acquiring education is a fundamental right, isn’t denying us saying we are not fit to live? If acquiring education is a right, isn’t denying us the same as saying we are slaves, choiceless? Today we say ENOUGH!!! Today I ask you, if your mother who is a banker can combine being a mother,a wife, her husband’s sex object in bed, a cook, a cleaner, a washwoman, with working in a bank, then what stops the average girl-child from being like her? Let us create an awareness today,it is high time we are stopped being seen as only fit for the kitchen, as sex toys, as a means to an end.
Give her a pen, not just a kitchen knife. Let her learn about biology and reproduction, do not just steal her innocence and make her an unprepared mother. She is a child, give her books, not a market list. She is young, teach her to survive in a harsh world, do not just plunge her into the darkness of the world. Save our sisters from being sex slaves in their early teens, save them from being exploited, save our little babies from growing so soon to be penetrated in bed when they should be learning MR NIGER D in classrooms. Educate a girl and empower a nation. Remember, she might not be as lucky as Malala.
EDUCATE A GIRL CHILD TODAY AND SAVE LIVES TOMORROW.