With high-stakes election seasons in four of WomenStrong’s five countries, girls from all over the world share their thoughts about women leaders and women’s leadership in general. This week girls from WomenStrong Girls’ Clubs in Kenya and Ghana share about inspiring women leaders at school.
Seline Anyango, Kenya
Seline is a 14-year-old student at Magadi Primary School living in Kisumu, Kenya.
One of the women I know is Phoebe Kittoi. She is a very kind woman to everyone who comes across her. I want her to be the leader forever. She stands as a headteacher of Magadi Primary School. Mostly, she is found in the school because she loves being a leader.
She is always involved in taking charge of the school curriculum. She makes sure that school properties are taken care of. Most of the teachers love her because of her behavior and because she is patient, kind and loving to everyone. She does not discriminate against others.
My dream as a young leader is to be like her in some years to come, because of her good behavior. And in some more years to come, I wish to be a confident leader even more than her.
Zoha Siddiqui, United States
Zoha is a sophomore at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC. Passionate about girls’ education, specifically in Pakistan, Zoha has devoted significant time to doing research and conducting interviews with teachers, students, politicians and policymakers on the topic.
My name is Zoha Siddiqui, and I am an advocate for girls’ education in developing countries, especially in Pakistan, the country my parents and entire family is from. I travel to Pakistan almost every year to visit family, to research about girls’ education there, and to build sustainable libraries for underfunded girls’ schools through my new non-profit organization, HER. After years of traveling to Pakistan, after interviewing politicians, students and teachers about why girls in Pakistan have fewer opportunities than boys, and after interacting with Pakistani girls in impoverished villages, I have seen the systematic gender discrimination that is too prevalent in Pakistan. The result of this discrimination is dramatically unequal gender distribution in the country’s workplaces, schools, government and other places for leadership.
Lack of female leadership in any country (especially underdeveloped ones) is detrimental to young girls, as they grow up without role models and lack the aspiration to bring change to their societies. Creating leadership paths for women and girls in Pakistan is crucial, and the two major ways to do this are through educating girls and encouraging educated women to become role models for the younger generation.
Education is the most powerful tool that can be used. Education gives a girl communication and teamwork skills, knowledge of her fundamental human rights, a basic knowledge of her world’s history and the determination and willingness to strive for excellence. These qualities intertwine to become a girl’s platform for understanding what needs to be changed in society and how exactly she can change it. If more girls are educated, then more girls will question why they face gender discrimination and work towards creating their own leadership opportunities. Education will also last through many future generations: educated mothers are able to educate their children, and these children will educate their own, and so on. Education is a sustainable platform that everyone can utilize and benefit from.
It is also important to realize that there are some current female leaders in Pakistan. Women currently play a small yet significant part in Pakistani society and affairs. It is our job to encourage these existing female leaders to continue to be role models for the younger generation. By being role models, these women have the power to show young Pakistani girls that when they grow up, they can lead non-domestic, powerful jobs that can influence their society’s politics and social structure. Role models are extremely important in order to motivate young girls to take control of their lives and become leaders like them.
To create more paths for female leadership in Pakistan, more girls have to get a full quality education, and current female leaders must become role models for the younger generation of girls. As an advocate for girls’ education in Pakistan and beyond, I am working towards providing young Pakistani girls with free, accessible, quality learning materials and fully furnished, sustainable libraries. I encourage all of you to join me in my mission for helping girls in Pakistan become leaders, and to create your own creative ventures that will do the same. Education shapes a girl into a determined, community-minded, intelligent woman and, most importantly, into a powerful leader.
Learn more about my work for girls’ education in developing countries with my new non-profit, HER .
Lois Appiah, Ghana
Lois is a 13-year-old, Grade 8 student at Esereso District Authority Junior High School 1 in Kumasi, Ghana.
Leadership is the state or position of being a leader. In my country, female leadership is not common. Women do not have equal rights with men. Many brilliant women of many professions have been put in that situation.
The head of my school is a female. She is a very well-educated woman, and I think she has all the acceptable qualities a leader is expected to have. Because she is a female, though, some of the females despise her. But because she has the vigor to hold that position, she ignores all of them.
My headmistress supervises, motivates, stimulates and communicates with the employees, to know whether they are working effectively or not. She takes proper supervision of the teachers and marks their lesson notes every week. She also speaks to the teachers harshly, so that they do not absent themselves from school. After every term, she makes sure to correct mistakes. I know as a leader, you have to motivate and encourage team members, so that they will have the zeal to work hard.
These qualities are possessed by my headmistress.
Female leadership needs to be improved to include more Ghanaian women, because we are the future leaders.
Mary Atieno Otieno, Kenya
Mary is a 14-year-old student in Class 8 at Magadi Primary School in Kisumu, Kenya.
I know of a woman called Phoebe Kittoi who lives in Kisumu city. She works as a headteacher at Magadi Primary School.
The reason why I admire her is because of the advice she has for girls, the empowerment she has for the youth, how she has supported the community, the privileges and freedoms she has given to the women living all around the county, and the good facilities she has brought to the schools. She has also inspired the whole community and has introduced good leadership that is needed.
When I grow up, I would like to be like Phoebe Kittoi, so as to empower all people and to inspire the next generation as she has always done, and even, if possible, to add more than what she has done for the whole community.