I have always loved being a girl. Growing up with 5 boys never made me want to be a boy. It’s not that I didn’t like them! I loved boys, initially making the outward proclamation that they were gross and had cooties, moving on to liking them as friends. Then they became interesting and attractive, fun to think about as I dreamily wrote my name linked with a Boys across my notebooks. I went on to marry, and then raise boys, 2 are now adults and one is a 15-year-old. And I love them. Despite the heart breaks and frustration with the obvious differences in cognitive functions, I love boys – but I have never wanted to be one. I loved being a girl.
Being a girl was an honored place in my family. Born after 3 boys, I broke statistics and was emotionally spoiled from my first breath. Even at the most awkward of stages I thought I was a princess. My best friend in Pakistan, Nancy, was also the only girl in her family. She was dark-haired and beautiful and I imagined us both as exotic princesses. We would be swept away by handsome princes who resembled George Harrison from the Beatles. That was my innocent world for a while.
Then I became 13. I was living in Pakistan as a middle schooler when an awareness flooded over me that life could be brutally unfair to girls. At 13, I suddenly realized had I been a poor Pakistani or Afghan girl my choices and path in life would be different. I thought about being 13 and being married to a 40-year-old, taking the place as second wife, place and identity precarious until that first male child was born. I don’t know how, but it washed over me like water one day and has become a question throughout my life. Why me here? Why them there?
13 was my moment of truth and realization that everyone born a girl is not so blessed as I. Everyone born a girl doesn’t feel it’s all about princess privilege. Millions of girls world-wide will never know what it’s like to love being a girl and move on to love being a woman. From birth to death and covering all areas in between like education, childbirth, jobs, literacy, even until death there are opportunities lost and tragedies made for so many girls across the globe.
But it doesn’t have to look this way. The picture can change and it can change even with a little action on our parts for the love of girls. In the book Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn a case is made that the “best way to fight poverty and extremism is to educate and empower women and girls”. I read the book last summer, not wanting it to end because of its conviction and call to action. I am impressed that it is fair and practical. Love of girls doesn’t have to be about politics, and it doesn’t have to be about difference. It can be all about girls. Through the organization Half the Sky there are concrete ways to get involved and get others involved. The agenda on the website is clear and I guarantee, no matter what your politics, there will be an organization that you can believe in and support – whether it be with time, finances, or spreading the word through networking.
So in honor of Mother’s Day this weekend – for the love of Girls who turn into Women – Girls with gifts, potential, personality, and strength; Girls that “hold up half the sky” I write this as a result of my journey to care.
So let us be clear up front: We hope to recruit you to join an incipient movement to emancipate women and fight global poverty by unlocking women’s power as economic catalysts. It is a process that transforms bubbly teenage girls from brothel slaves into successful businesswomen. You can help accelerate change if you’ll just open your heart and join in.” From Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity Worldwide
Take a look at this video clip from the Global Campaign for Education:
Dedicated to my two girls – Annie and Stefanie. You are beautiful, amazing, strong and gifted. Thank you for who you are. Also to my mom for teaching me that being a girl is great.
Bloggers Note: Half the Sky comes from a quote by Mao Tse -Tung “Women hold up half the sky”. This quote was the inspiration for the title of Kristof and Wudunn’s book.
3 thoughts on “For the Love of Girls”
wow I love this post and this clip Marilyn, I too have a heart for girls… having three of them myself, I feel that one day we’ll be doing something as a family to empower girls, although I don’t quite know what that is at the moment. There’s an ad on at the moment whose strapline is ‘Girls Can Change The World’, I keep hearing it in the background and never catching the full thing so I don’t know who or what its for but I love that line! I’ve felt for a long time that although as a society we wrongly devalue boys, men and fatherhood, we also haven’t seen girls and women reach the true potential that God has for us and that when we do, we will see an explosion of creativity and change like the world has never seen before.
Right on, Marilyn! I had no idea you were thinking such serious thoughts when you were only 13. That was when we lived in Larkana. Are there specific women or girls that you remember? It was there I got seriously involved in teaching some of the teen girls from sweeper families to read. I was so moved by how appreciative their mothers were that someone cared about their daughters.