This month, we celebrated International Women’s Day. Some people asked, why do we even have a women’s day? Is it really necessary? What are we supposed to be celebrating during this day anyway? It is exactly these types of questions and thinking that gives us reason to celebrate women.
Here’s some things I have learned in 31 years of life. And why we need ‘International Women’s Day’.
- Women are considered ‘girls’. You might think that this is cute especially when someone ‘compliments’ you saying, ‘you look like a teenager’. It’s not! It ensures you have no decision making power; adults (men) will make decisions for you, regarding you, based on what they think you need. Just the way we do with children. I don’t ask my warrior princess what she wants to eat at a restaurant, I order for her. Is it nice when someone orders for a grown woman without asking? Is it a show of love? Or power?
- The world is currently not a safe space for my daughter. It will not matter what I teach her about power and grace and leadership. The world will tell her she is ‘just’ a girl and has nothing (or less) to offer than any male counterpart she might come against. She will already be considered number 2 as opposed to any (and I mean ‘any’- qualified or not) man. My friend Wahura is a doctor, she wrote to me, ‘Kitt, one guy didn’t want an update from ‘girls’, he wanted a doctor’s (man’s) report. In my department, we’re all female and so are our seniors. He went home without knowing what was wrong with his baby.’ I grieve for my child.
- I dress Kendi in shorts and pants most of the time. In the occasion that I put her in a dress, I put on shorts underneath it. My thinking- I grew up in shorts (even when I cried for the pretty cinderella dresses, my mother wouldn’t hear any of that) and it liberated me. Nobody ever told me to ‘sit properly’ or ‘I can see your panties’. I was in the trees with my cousins, upside down on the monkey bars, under my grandmothers granary, wading upstream in the river. Nothing as changeable as clothes stopped me from exploring and gaining knowledge. Unfortunately, little girls sit out on almost everything because they need to ‘sit properly’. I recommend we eliminate the need to ‘sit properly’ and allow little girls to go as far, fast or long as little boys. They learn much much more.
- I asked my mother to cut off my hair when I was 11 years old. She asked me if I was sure and I said ‘yes’ and nodded. She took me to the barber. All through my younger school years, I didn’t worry about staying indoors in the rain, swimming on a whim, or missing a friend’s party because I needed to go to the salon. I was free. My sister Tawi, not so much.
- ‘Why don’t you just put it into locs?’ my husband suggested one day when Kendi was whining as I was braiding her hair. ‘Yeah?’ I asked, and locked my daughter’s hair. And now Kendi wears her hair in locs, like me. Now the world will tell Kendi that her hair is ‘untidy’ and ‘unkempt’ and ‘unprofessional’ but all the world really means is ‘your hair is not western’. She will need to deal with that and find her beauty and strength from within.
In the meantime, I am doing all I can to create a safer world for her. I’m a safe world builder! She’s already in trouble though. Black and female is not really ideal is it?