“Silent, polite, and obedient women can’t change the world for the better. So why are these the norms young girls everywhere are taught to follow?”
Amujae Leader Isata Kabia urged women and girls to stop “being good girls,” and adopt five habits to help regain their collective power in a recent article published in Impakter and The Sierra Leone Telegraph.
Ms. Kabia, who is the CEO of AFRiLOSOPHY and the Founding Director of Voice of Women Africa, suggested that society unconsciously supports the patriarchy because it is something that many are acquainted with from birth, becoming active participants subconsciously as it is passed down through generations of women and girls.
“Good girls” are “polite, obedient, and silent,” wrote Ms. Kabia. She continued:
“We suppress and alienate women who don’t conform because we classify them based on what we have been taught is ‘good’ and ‘right.’ We become collective oppressors of each other, even though we suffer the resulting shame alone, and in silence.”
Overcoming and unlearning this behavior requires that women come together to amplify each other’s voices and discover their collective power, Ms. Kabia said. Women must adopt five key habits to unlearn the silencing.
First, women must “daydream to nurture your curiosity.” Women and girls must be encouraged to dream big and be curious about the world in order to envision a better future.
Second, Ms. Kabia urged women to come together to “find our collective voice.” With programs such as the Amujae Initiative, women are encouraged to support each other, raise their voices, and “take their rightful places in leadership.”
Third, women must “celebrate the small wins – and do it with loud applause.” Emphasizing even the smallest of wins can be the encouragement a woman needs to take the next step in their journey.
Fourth, Ms. Kabia encouraged women to “just do it.” Many women are held back by a fear of failure, but “only those who don’t dare to push the limits have perfect track records.”
Finally, women must also “expect more from men and boys.” As seen with the EJS Center’s Have Her Back campaign, Ms. Kabia wrote that men’s allyship is crucial, and there needs to be “as large a coalition as possible” in order to achieve gender equality. Men can be “agents of transformative change who will recognize women’s participation as an untapped national asset against injustice and will commit to changing it.”
Ms. Kabia noted that these systemic changes towards a more equal society will take time. However:
“If you take one thing away from this piece, I hope it’s this: that we all have a voice, however small you think it might be. I hope you use yours in service of change.”
Ms. Kabia is also the former Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, and former Minister of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Sierra Leone.
Read the full article here.