Girls’ Leadership Forum: On Education

Lobsang Choetso, Tibet

Lobsang currently attends a boarding school in India. She is 18, and has not seen her parents in 10 years.

In my country, during early times, being a girl was to serve boys and to do the housework. They considered that girls were just for giving birth, serving boys and listening to boys. For that reason, parents did not want to give birth to a girl. Boys were more educated than girls because they got more opportunity to study. But now the situation has changed. Now there is woman power. Women are becoming more educated than boys.

Maureen Kosen, Kenya

Maureen is currently studying family law at university in Kenya. She is 19.

Being a woman has made me work hard in order to prove that I am equal to the male gender and can do any type of career. Taking a girl to school is seen to be of less importance, as many girls are married off at 12 years old, and it’s believed that their work is just to stay at home, which has increased female poverty, because without an education, they are unable to do anything useful for themselves.

Ellen Flax, United States

Ellen lives in Washington D.C. She is 17, and Jewish.

Growing up as a girl in Washington, DC, I have experienced many privileges that women across the globe cannot say that they have. My right to an education, my right to sleep safely in my bed, and my right to equal opportunity have never been violated on the basis of my gender. Instead, I have experienced gender bias in a variety of “harmless” jokes and phrases. “Are you sure you can carry all that?”, “Always cross your knees,” and “Boys will be boys” were just a few of the many ways I was taught what it meant to be a girl in my society. More recently, I have learned that society’s image of girls also does not include the ability to excel in math and science. Looking at the regular tracks of math and science courses at my high school, boys and girls are equally represented. However, looking at the gender distribution in advanced math and science classes, the balance is skewed dramatically towards males. Troubled by this observation, I asked my fellow female classmates what they thought. Shockingly, I heard many academically qualified girls tell me that they had been explicitly discouraged from taking accelerated courses due to the fact that they “wouldn‘t be able to handle it.” This blatant dismissal of my peers, and the hard work they displayed in their academic pursuits, showed me that even institutions that pride themselves on diversity and academic excellence can still fall victim to the pervasive nature of sexism.

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