Not Perfect, But Strong.

My dad is a cleric,

My mum is a teacher,

So I am the perfect girl,

(Or so says my society).

I am Adaeze Muonyelu.

I was born in a rural village in the eastern part of Nigeria.

My society is cynical by default.

She cannot be a feminist, they say.

She better stop this fight for women’s rights.

She will scare men away by being heard.

She should understand she is a girl.

She is too outspoken.

She is getting too educated.

She is better as an assistant.

She will not do well if placed in a leadership position, they say.

She needs to do house chores.

She is only a daughter.

She is only a wife.

She is only a mother.

She is only a caregiver.

Does she know better than our grandmothers and ancestors?

Female genital mutilation is an old tradition.

Girl child marriage brings fortune to families.

Gender based violence is because women talk too much, and will most likely annoy their husbands.

Our harmful traditional practices must be kept, they have been in existence.

And I replied, “I cannot be limited because I’m a girl.”

I am an expert of my reality.

I can achieve and do well in life.

I multitask, so I can be a good leader.

I am a bold and transformative leader.

In my local community,

I promote Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.

I stand against Female Genital mutilation, this is barbaric.

I stand against Child Marriage, this creates the ripple of poverty.

I stand against Gender-Based Violence, it is harmful to mental health.

The best thing that happened to me was learning about YWCA Nigeria.

I got mentored in intergenerational leadership.

I got equipped,

I built capacity,

I learnt the need to support other women.

I learnt about my rights as a woman.

I have seen people with the best mentors, advisers, counsellors, privileges, and opportunities,

Yet they fail.

The problem is not always the society or leadership,

Sometimes, women do not support women.

Sometimes, young women do not cultivate the right attitudes.

Sometimes, girls demean themselves.

We need to be soul sisters indeed.

We need to create the ladder of opportunity for ourselves at leadership tables.

We need to speak out and talk about power structure transformations.

We need to be the change in narratives around young women leadership.

We need to break every written and unwritten law posing as a barrier to achieving our dreams.

Yes! My society is cynical by default.

Yet! I leverage so much on the gaps to make my voice heard.

Ada is a strong young woman!

ADAEZE MUONYELU

YWCA, NIGERIA

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