By Angela Rangira Uwase, Gashora Girls Academy, 17 years old
Being able to assertively challenge someone in a debate is not considered "feminine"; that's too much confidence for a girl. I have been mocked by my cousins attributing that to being raised as the only girl in four boys. I have loved being part of a debate because then I get to challenge what I have been raised to think, not that I don't have my insecurities. And I am not the only one; almost every girl out there has been raised to believe in their own inadequacy in comparison to boys. I am not sure if this has to do with the past of Rwanda but it most definitely has a lot to do with the future of this nation.
I have believed for awhile now that the best thing you can do for someone is to help them find their voice. I believe that is why girls from single-sex schools are more successful in this country. They are given the freedom to become who they want to be once in an environment where they are not constantly stereotyped and compared to their brothers. That is what the government thinks, as well. They keep creating policies to empower a girl, in education, in families and all that. However, they forget that we are in a mixed society and these policies on their own stand no chance of changing the mindset people have had for centuries. Only 25% of women were able to pass interviews for jobs in the public sector, whereas men secured the remaining 75%. Girls remain weak!
I believe that my government has done enough. I will take the lead in helping to change the lives of the million girls in my country. I want my friends to be the future Oprah Winfrey or Wangari Mathai. I do not want the biggest fear of my classmates to be ending up without a husband and facing the shame of society because they are bold and independent. I want it to occur to that girl I met in the village that she can be a pilot, an engineer or a doctor, not just a teacher or a matron. I want to see my cousin sister become the future president of my country and I want to see all these girls dream big and grow to achieve those big dreams. And I want to be responsible for those things because I fought for the empowerment of girls at this point in time. Great things are yet to come.