I woke up this morning looking forward to writing something for my first #DailyWritingChallenge piece. So I checked my twitter account and there was a message detailing today’s theme and a powerful blog about agency from the phenomenal Hannah. And as I was attending to my motherly duties, I couldn’t help but think about the different forms of agency that showed up in my life. I use my writing to exhale, to reflect and each time I write, I prompt myself to show up as my authentic self.
So here I go…..
Reading Hannah’s blog triggered a memory of a time I had no agency, a moment that changed my life forever and a decision that was a catalyst for the woman, the mother, the sister and the leader I am today. When I was 8 years old, a decision was made to alter a sacred part of my anatomy in the name of culture. It took me a long time to grieve, understand, accept and celebrate this precious part of me. I never shared my FGM story before because I detest the pity and victimhood assigned to it by other women. This is irreconcilable with who I am, how I see myself and the uncompromising journey I took to get here. So what if my vagina looks different to yours? Does she need your pity?
NO, she doesn’t, she is a survivor, she gifted me with my children and she is the reason why I may be adding to that baby boom (please lord NO) in 9 months . The point is; I am not a victim, I am a survivor. In fact, how many can say they really know their most sacred part, that they’ve explored her, learnt to love and appreciate her reflection in the mirror and respect her enough to explore her needs. I know I have and I would encourage every woman to do the same. The point is I endured the outcome of no agency, I am not willing to endure the wounds of misguided collective agency or pity.
I may not have had ‘individual agency’ when I was 8 but I became an agent of change. My daughters and nieces will be the first women in our female lineage that will not be inflicted by a wretched cultural norm that has left many women in my community with scars that they are still healing from. And this makes me proud. It gives me hope, it fuels my purpose and my actions as a woman, a mother, a teacher and a leader.
For 13 years, I have had the honour to advocate for members of my community. For students who are judged and punished more harshly because of the colour of their skin. For mothers who needed guidance to navigate the structural biases of our education system and the unjust exclusion policies adopted by too many of our schools. For our youth who needed to see, as Shaun Wallace puts it, ‘GOAL’ models and required guidance about careers, HE choices and a safe space to explore their feelings. For a young community who is tired of the single story and the tabloid narrative and deserve representation, visibility and not to be seen through the lens of ignorance and structural biases.
That single fundamental moment of not having agency has shaped and impacted my life in so many ways, I am grateful it has given me the capacity to be an agent of change, to lead change and to:
“Be the change you (I) wish to see in the world”