Plan have asked for others to share their stories of ‘being a girl’ to promote the campaign, so I thought I’d deviate from my usual blogging a little and share mine.
The purpose of the Coalition is to raise awareness about the plight of girls in developing countries and how investment in girls will help break the poverty cycle... The Because I am a Girl Coalition members are demonstrating the importance of investing in girls by sharing a personal insight into the critical investment they received as young people that helped to shape who they are today.
I grew up in a household with both of my parents and a younger sister. As a child, I was keen to involve myself in a range of personal pursuits, including playing the violin, writing, and participating in community organisations — all of which was supported by my parents. None of these activities was ever forced or even suggested by my parents — they were all undertaken of my own choosing. I was always a little ‘different’ to the other kids in some ways, but my parents rarely insisted that I be like everyone else (although I’m pretty sure they weren’t impressed with the black lipstick or pierced tongue).
When I was 12, I decided to join St John Ambulance as a cadet, and I stayed with the organisation until I was 18. During that time, I learnt invaluable skills that were not only practical (such as life-saving first aid training), but I also received mentoring from other women who helped to shape who I am today. One of these women was Deanna, my superintendent at the Welcome Creek Division of St John Ambulance. Having been a member of the organisation for many years, Deanna was an inspiring person to lead a group of young people (mostly girls). Deanna’s influence was so great that in 1999 I was a member of the team of three who won the State Titles for first aid competitions (Queensland), and she then took us to Melbourne to compete in the National Titles a few months later. Deanna now has three daughters of her own, who will no doubt grow up to be inspiring young women themselves. Although I am no longer a member of the organisation, its positive influence will stay with me for the rest of my life (and I keep my first aid training up to date!).
These days, I have a full-time job in publishing, and am newly married with a mortgage. I am fortunate enough to live in a society where I have the choice of whether to work or stay home and have a family, and I have a choice in who I marry (or whether I marry at all). I do all the cooking in our home, but my husband cleans up after me, and we share all the other household duties. I don’t want to be a high-flying corporate executive — I just want to work in a job that I enjoy in a profession that I have chosen and be paid a fair amount for it. And, although I may grumble about it at times, that’s generally what I have right now.
Recently, I’ve begun learning some skills that are traditionally considered to be ‘women’s work’ — sewing, in particular. However, unlike young women in many other societies, I made this has been solely my decision. I have become increasingly aware of the sweatshop conditions that are endured by countless women around the world, so I wanted to do my little bit to help. I’ve started purchasing as much clothing as I can from companies that do not use sweatshop labour, in addition to making some items myself. I may find it frustrating and tiring (and I have been known to curse at my very old machine), but I can eat when I want, I can take toilet breaks, I can watch the television, and I can stop whenever I feel like it.
That’s a little bit of my story as a girl. I sponsor a child in Pakistan, Fazila, so that I can help to make a positive difference in the life of at least one other young girl. My hope for Fazila is that she grows up to become an educated young woman who is able to make choices for herself. Please visit the Because I Am a Girl website to read more stories, as they are truly inspiring.