I am very proud to have been a part of a historic day as International Day of the Girl and for the opportunity to be a part of the assembly that was held at our school. It was exhilarating to present everything we learned about girls education globally to our peers.
I am glad to be taking Ileana Jimenez’s feminism course because before this, I was not aware of all of the privileges that I had as an American male citizen. My mind was so stuck in America that I was unaware of what was really happening around the world.
Scholars like Richa Nagar and her documentation of stories from girls and women in India really opened my eyes to see the truth, and I can honestly say that the truth hurt. Fortunately, I discovered that the remedy for the pain that I felt, was the willpower and determination of young girls to break out of the cycle of oppression that they were born into.
Playing With Fire by Nagar brings together seven women and seven different stories of women activists in India. Nagar brought these women together to share their stories and to enlighten them.
This journey that these women have embarked on has led to a “much sharper vision to live and fight in a society whose chains burn us and ignite us to smash and break them.”
I think that is very powerful because that just shows how determined these women are to fight against the chains that keep them down. Chaandni, one of the girls in Playing with Fire, still managed to fight on even with the “painful separation from her first daughter.” She was separated from her first child, and I cannot even begin to imagine how painful it would be to separated from my two year old nephew, who I held the day after he was born and have cared for since. Even through all of that pain, she can still manage to find the strength to keep moving.
When my fellow classmate, Noel, presented The Importance of Educating Girls from the 10×10 Educate Girls website, numerous amounts of benefits of educating girls came up such as a 15 to 20% increase in wages; better health; and an increase in children going to school as well. I was amazed that girls were still being denied education.
Then, fellow classmate, Bruke, spoke of various reasons why girls are denied education, which include: poverty, gender discrimination, and lack of safety. He also stated that 50% of the world’s population lives in poverty. That is just insane and it takes away the hope that I had in woman like Chaandni to break free of the cycle.
I was losing hope until I introduced a video by 10×10. This video is called the Value of an Education for an Indian Girl and it focuses on a girl named Parvati. Parvati is from New Delhi, India and she is only ten years old. She is so inspirational to me, and I was honored to introduce her in the video, because she is the first in her family to read and write; she loves going to school, and she is so determined to get an education.
In the video, she looks so excited to learn and go to school alongside all of her friends. The teacher seems so determined to help these girls. This ten year old girl has the most determination to break out of the cycle that she was born into that I have ever seen. It tells me that if this little girl can keep fighting, then so can I.
Before I took this feminist course, I tried to live my life and run through all the walls that stood in my way by following my favorite superhero, the Green Lantern. The Green Lantern embodies willpower and he uses it to fight and channels his will power through a power ring. In this story, will is a tool for fighting injustice. I used this hero as an inspiration to work harder and to be a better person.
For me, it most definitely works. I can admit that the Green Lantern is a fictional character but he is a lot more to me. After this International Day of the Girl assembly, its clear to me that heroes like the Green Lantern do exist, and their names are Chaandni and Parvati. They can use their willpower as a fighting tool, but they can do it without power rings.
The Green Lantern showed me that I can be a better person and to have hope in myself. Chaandni and Parvati showed me that I can have hope in people. If they can be stronger, then I have to channel more willpower and work harder and be stronger too.
International Day of the Girl has really opened my eyes and my ears. Now that I am listening and paying attention, then maybe now my classmates and I can help and be apart of this movement. It really brings a smile to my face to have been a part of this assembly and to show the story of Parvati. I only hope that people will open their eyes as well.