Girls’ Leadership Forum: On Careers & Aspirations
Noemi Duker, Congo and Ghana
Noemi currently lives in South Africa and is 15.
Being a girl has affected my experience in many ways, from activities I partake in at school, to the way I dress and carry myself. Concerning the societal aspects of sexism, I have experienced quite a bit, especially regarding the “tasks a woman has to do,” such as waking up early in the morning and cleaning the house or cooking. I do not mind doing these things; however, I rarely see boys, African boys, as a matter of fact, being asked to do such. This is because boys are seen as respected figures and are greatly encouraged to not do anything “feminine.” There has been sexism in the workplace for the longest time; it is like a science experiment, one thing always leads to another. If women aren’t given access to any well-paying or minimum wage professions, they consequently will probably live a life of poverty. My wish for Africa is that it change its mentality concerning the divide between men and women.
Ruth Kimacia, Kenya
Ruth is 19 and will begin attending African Leadership University in Mauritius this fall.
My name is Ruth Kimacia. I was born in Kenya, and I have lived in Rwanda for the last six years. I have been blessed to live in a community where women are celebrated and encouraged to pursue careers to provide for their families. I know of families where mothers are the primary breadwinners. Even in their youth, women are encouraged to apply themselves. For example, this last year my school was led by a student government that was 70 percent female. From my experiences, I have realised that society’s view of women has encouraged them to pursue careers and to work their way out of poverty. I do, however, live in a middle-class home, and I recognise that this might not be the case for women in low-income areas. But if women in higher-income areas are encouraged to pursue careers and create jobs, then they can provide employment for women in poverty.
Charlotte Del Col, United States
Charlotte is 17 and lives in Boston, Massachusetts.
I feel as though being a girl in the US is incredibly easy. I don’t get married off at age 14 or stared at for wearing a shorter skirt, but that doesn’t mean I always feel equal to my male counterparts. Wearing a low-cut shirt provokes many stares at my high school, and comments like “put those away” are not uncommon. Gender wage gaps are also incredibly prevalent in all different kinds of jobs. Although I will have to wait a little while to see how much wage gaps affect me, my aspirations are still somewhat limited, based on the inequality in certain fields, such as working in the sports industry. Going to India this year put a lot of my gender views into a worldwide perspective. When I visited elementary schools, girls competitively engaged with boys and took pride in winning games. As soon as we got to the middle school, something switched, and girls no longer had confidence in being as strong as boys. Removing these ideals of inequality are key in the next steps towards equality amongst genders.