Girl


(c) Woodside High School

(c) Woodside High School

 

Yesterday I was at an Aspirations Day in a North London school talking to a group of year 9 girls about the job that I do and how I got here since finishing my formal education. It was a refreshing event and I was so happy to be in a room full of young girls who had ambitions, felt hopeful at seeing successful women in front of them and wanted to have a better life for themselves.

On my way home I was quite emotional because although I often plague myself with self doubt, it reminded me why I started up my own business and how far I’ve come despite having faced so much adversity.

During my presentation, I shared my own personal story and spoke about something that, until then, only my immediate family had known. I’ve been discussing many topics and having conversations with individuals in the run up to International Women’s Day. I was speaking with Rani Bilkhu, a campaigner and founder of Jeena International, an organisation that is passionate about combating gendercide and sex-selective abortions, when I opened up about something that happened to me when I was younger.

The work that Bilkhu does touched a nerve with me because it’s something that I am all too familiar with. When my parents split up, and my mother abandoned us. At the same time, she also burnt bridges with me. At the time, I was fourteen, and when she left the house I asked her: “Why can’t I come with you?” to which she replied, “I don’t want you. I never did because you’re a girl. Stop talking to me.” It’s sad that I remember this phone call because I didn’t know what it felt like to be unwanted until I heard those words.

Until my presentation yesterday, I hadn’t spoken about this with anyone, because for a long time I felt ashamed to be a girl. I felt like it carried a burden, a pain and was something bad. It hurts me even now that someone who is supposed to love and care for you unconditionally dislikes you because of your gender – even though they were once a girl and ironically come from a very large female-centric family. It affected almost every area of my life and I grew up feeling inadequate; something that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Weirdly enough, my paternal family were thrilled when I was born because I was the first girl after 28 years.

I grew up feeling conflicted. On one hand, I was loved and protected, but in the back of my mind I felt like I couldn’t really relax or trust the love that my father’s family gave me.  I even met up with her in my final year of university, with the hope of changing her mind, but even after all those years she hadn’t changed which stung. On my own terms, I knew that there nothing I could do and that it had never been my fault so I cut ties for good. It’s something that I’ve never regretted because I knew that I did everything in my power to try and repair our bond. It just didn’t work out and I am better off for it. I am glad that I am. now, in a position to use my  line of work to give self esteem, hope and confidence to young girls and women of all backgrounds.

Incidentally, yesterday, MPs voted against amending the law to criminalise gender-selective abortion. It is wonderfully explained in this must-read blog. Whilst some may be shaking their heads in disagreement, I’m personally glad that MPs did not vote in favour of this amendment because it would have put a lot of vulnerable women and young girls at risk.

For those who purse their lips in disapproval, amending a law is not going to stop this from happening. Even if the law had been amended, people would have resorted to back-street abortions and gone abroad to abort female foetuses. This is an issue which is deeply embedded in pockets of different ethnic communities and cultures which needs to be addressed. It’s a bit like only giving a person with a broken arm painkillers and not binding their injury. Until we begin to challenge these thought processes, begin to respect and defend women and girls of all ages, then we might see the green shoots of progress and a better tomorrow start to grow.

 

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4 thoughts on “Girl

  1. Firstly well done on the talk, I always applauded ppl who give up their time to help others in a positive manner.
    Sad to hear about your personal experience, and no one should have to go through that. As ironic as this may be, but historically mothers coming from a heavy female-centric family tend to always have this attitude to their own, it’s a cultural flaw without a doubt. Appreciate as a teenager that must have been exceptionally difficult to deal with however knowing you through your work, you seemed to have come out the other side very well. Again, pat on the back.
    The tide of hypocrisy is changing and I feel certainly in this country some well deserved and rightful equality will prevail, I am sure of that. Until then, we must all fight on for equality and that starts at home, with parents, aunts, uncles and whatever other relationships.

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    • Thanks for reading and leaving a comment! I agree, it’s so important to show the next generation that there are people who are striving for change and a better future.
      It’s alright – it was difficult to go through and even talk about, but it’s my story at the end of the day and I have nothing to be ashamed of.
      I agree; I think people everywhere are wanting change and equality across the board. And yes! Until that change occurs on a mass scale, we have to keep pushing and speaking out against injustices and inequalities

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  2. I read this last night…but couldn’t comment…but your experiences sparked up memories….having has similar issues myself. On the contrary, it has been my mother who has been my pillar of strength…with negativity from the other parent….it hurts either way…it matters either way…You are setting a definite example as to how things should be.

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    • Thanks for reading and leaving a comment Anu. Ohh I’m so sorry to hear this *hugs* parental rejection (paternal and/or maternal) is always so painful. It’s the ultimate rejection in a way I suppose.
      Keep your head up and keep going – you’re doing great already and it is a privilege to know you xxx

      Liked by 1 person

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