There has been a lot of debate and talks about empowering the girl child in Kenya, and how females are not being given the opportunities that males are being given to achieve their full potential. Though this may be true, what hasn’t been addressed as much is whether girls are taking advantage of the opportunities that they have been given?
The trend that is becoming more acceptable or common rather is that at the age between eighteen and twenty two a girl will go to university and instead of concentrating on her studies she ends up spending her time either looking for a guy who she feels will be able to support her in future. That may not even be the case. Sometimes she just ends up dating a guy, they end up living together and somehow she gets caught in the trap of taking care of his needs like ironing, cooking, cleaning and going for parties instead of going to class. So sometimes she ends up being a “wife” instead of being a student and her grades suffer. Some even end up graduating late because they are too busy partying instead of concentrating on reading. A few don’t even get a degree at all.
Another scenario is a girl enters university as a freshman, beautiful, innocent, and naïve. Men prowl like lions watching and waiting for the fresh meat season. She is offered money for her services and this heartbreaking story leaves her bruised, battered, and with education as the farthest thing from her mind.
There are also some girls who have taken to becoming ladies of the night in order to fund their lifestyle. By day they are students and by night they are selling sexual favours. Some are also proudly mistresses or playthings for the rich and famous, and they don’t care. As long as they have money to burn and are living in the fast lane they don’t care.
In all these situations one thing leads to another and the next thing you know she is skipping classes and hardly focusing on her future. She is now, back to the beginning, playing the victim. She is a damsel in distress waiting for a knight in shining armor to rescue her. I have heard of and seen this story play out before my own eyes. It happens in universities throughout Kenya and we take no notice of it. I talked to my mom in order to find out what the mindset of girls in university were like in her days and this is what she said,
“Whereas to some extent I agree with the above, I must say that every generation goes through its own challenges. In my days in university we also had challenges with relationships and all but it was rare to hear of students cohabiting while in college. One had to work hard to go to university and to get that admission took a lot of diligence hence when that opportunity came, it was seriously embraced and school taken seriously. Needless to say there were more males than females joining university unlike today where there are many universities plus parallel programs which were not there. Private universities were also just beginning in Kenya.”
So what has happened? First let me acknowledge that we still have female university students who are taking their education seriously. As a matter of fact we are seeing women climb the career ladder quite fast with more women enrolling for evening classes even while maintaining a day job, however, there may be a lot of pressures today facing young women.
There is a lot of competition and desire to outdo each other in terms of fashion and more superficial endeavors; hence a girl may compromise her standards. On the other hand the society has become more tolerant (sadly) of things to do with sexual matters unlike in the past. WE have seen young ladies come out publicly saying that for them they will do anything to have their financial appetite resolved. Even when it means sleeping with whomever to climb the ladder… Co-habitating has become more acceptable. Before the fear of God was quite evident in the society; church was introduced at an early age and whereas people did not necessarily come out to declare they were born again Christians, there was definite fear of God and more evident morals were upheld in our nation.
I believe these generation’s females should,
• Seek to competitively excel in academics and mapping out their future
• Write a plan for where they would like to be in the next ten to twenty years
• Take full advantage of the equal opportunities that have been presented to both the males and females alike
• Surround themselves with peers who are more focused and serious about working towards their future
• Find a mentor/mentors who have forged ahead successfully in similar career paths
Shingai is an upcoming writer with a passion for words and expression through writing. She lived in Zimbabwe as a child and has traveled to over ten countries. She craves adventure and hopes to be an inspirational writer. She is currently pursuing a degree in English Literature with a minor in Psychology at Daystar University.