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Oh, to be a girl...

06 September 2014, 15:12 Shakila Alivitsa

Nairobi - Being a young woman is at times harder than people care to think. I am writing from the perspective of a young woman in my country, Kenya. Every second, each and every one of my decisions is an important one but most times not in my hands. It did not start at the age of 25 like some or maybe most do, when you start your career, but immediately I finished high school, I had to rely on myself.  Most do, but that’s them and I'm writing from my perspective.

It is not something I have encountered in singular form but from a circle of my friends. When you are in high school, life is easier, every minute of your waking moment is dedicated to your "studies", when that is over, things change. You were being given pocket money when you were in high school or had a support system in place, but for me and also in university, that was a foreign word. I was a day scholar, the only money I ever got from my parents was my bus fare, and it was a daily pay out of KES 200. The rest I was meant to figure out on my own. I live in a place where it’s KES 120 in the morning and KES 130 in the evening, when you do that math it does not take a genius to figure out the extra amount. You know watching a man operate daily, there are a couple of home truths that just hit you as to how simple a guy can exist. They have no need for monthly budgets, like tampons/ pads, make your hair, if you get on your stage later than 7pm, you are getting a motorbike if living in an unsafe area.

A guy tells me he hustles, what are you “hustling”, so that I can do it too. Looking for a job is not a piece of cake. Too educated to be a waitress, and not educated enough to be anything. My country sometimes baffles me. Not all of us can be drivers, toilet cleaners, janitors- they are jobs, and they feed someone, yes, but, to each one his own. My own is not there.

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When you go out there and talk about the girl child welfare, for most of you, you just want to touch on the tip of the iceberg. After that, you are not even aware of the aftermath. You just want to collect a group of you, go and walk in the streets causing mayhem for one day. And for that one minute, in your head, you are satisfied that you have done enough. But what are you doing in your everyday lives that touches on your own daughter. Do you know how she eats, clothes, where she sleeps and who she sleeps with. You want to stand on a higher ground and say that the young women these days have fallen on lean times but do not forget, you paved the way for such behavior. Do not be too shocked by the newcomer term socialite or video vixen and say that those who feature lack morals. Those who feature are just trying to find a way to fend for themselves. I for one, my parents have no idea where I go, how I go, the last they bought me something to wear was in primary school. The worst thing, they never ask and they are just too happy I never ask for anything. One wonders if they would be surprised if told I prostitute myself. I am one of the few lucky ones, I got a talent to write, and found an opportunity to do so, that covers me while I look for a job. But many young women out there are not.


At times, when you just sit with your fellow girls, you just laugh at the absurdity of it all and life moves on, but every day you wake up you are just trying to figure out a way to maintain yourself.

Ah being a girl.

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