By Iretimide Esther Osunyinkanmi
In spite of the importance of parental guidance in a child’s life, there are many children who are deprived of this invaluable help. Their parents may not be physically or psychologically present to give them this form of guidance.
Girls, especially in today’s society, need parental guidance for the awareness of certain issues, positive and negative, which may promote or retard the progress of individuals.
Some concerned people recognise the absence of this guidance in the lives of most girls and feel obliged to help them. Non-governmental organisations are a great example of social agents that have risen to help make the world a better place for girls.
Media organizations, print and electronic, occupy a preeminent position in the society when it comes to information dissemination and public enlightenment. The manner the media projects societal ills that affect girls determines the response of relevant authorities.
For instance, in the case of recent deaths of 26 teenage girls who drowned while crossing the Mediterranean, the media presented this devastating news in a way that called for further investigation of the circumstances of the deaths.
Presentation of issues like suicide, murder, rape and inequality in a manner that demands immediate remedial will definitely elicit the attention of the public.
I have come to the painful realisation that the society does not just make girls feel inferior to boys, it also asserts that girls’ role in the society is one of servitude; it places an invisible barrier ahead of them giving reasons why they cannot achieve as much as the male child. It places a glass ceiling above them which makes certain aims and dreams seem unobtainable.
Society places their impeding hurdles before them making some goals appear unrealistic. They are forced to the unsettling realisation that because they are girls they cannot aspire too greatly lest they forget their natural roles. Hence, men realise their ambitions at the expense of women.
Recent news headlines prove that girls are more likely to be victims of sexual harassment and assaults.
We have given lewd men the opportunity to sexualize the bodies of preteens, teenagers and young girls everywhere. They are told to stay in their houses and be careful of where they go, how they dress, who they speak to and what they say so they do not learn the hard way.
This is a word for all the girls who are victims of sexual assault and harassment: please remember that you are not alone. It is inappropriate what that person has done to you. Though you may never recover that piece of you that was taken away, do not be ashamed to tell someone that you trust. Seek justice for the act that has been committed against your body.
I need you to understand that the shame is not on you but on the criminal. You need to realise that when you do not speak up they may come back to hurt you or someone close to you. Realise that it was not your fault no matter what anyone says.
Your dresses did not invite rapists to assault you. Your body weight does not denote that you were in search of attention. You cannot be at fault if they made the choice to do what they did. It is no man’s duty to correct “indecency” by raping you. You are not at fault. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Carry yourself with dignity, pride and self-respect because you are a wonderful creature.
The society puts the female child down for actions she performs or emotions she expresses. Unfortunately, the society praises the male child for the same actions. For instance, if a man constantly works on a project he hopes to bring into the world, he is seen as committed.
If a woman performs the same action, she is said to be obsessed. A man can be strategic but a woman remains manipulative. By telling girls that being manly is unattractive, we shut down the voices and talents that could potentially shake the world. We force their personal assertion to dwindle and cause them to doubt themselves causing waves of insecurity across the globe.
My advice to young girls who are going into the world is that they have to be positive. In being positive, it is crucial to keep in mind that there are people who are not good and this fact will prevent girls from falling into the negative side of life.
As girls, we are going to face obstacles and we are bound to make mistakes. Acknowledging that we were wrong will make us better and more reputable people. It will make it hard for anyone to use our mistakes against us because we are not ashamed of the things we have done or the things we are prone to do.
This earns us respect from the people we may need on our journey through life. As we embark on life’s journey we will learn, unlearn and relearn concepts that may or may not have impacts on our lives. We are all evolving into the eminent ladies that we are supposed to be. None should try to be a carbon copy of another person.
As I end this piece, I want you to hold these words dear to your heart: Remember that it is good to remain your natural self as there lies the capacity to fulfil your purpose in life.
* Osunyinkan lives in Akure