After four years at a Texas university, and another two years working on a graduate degree, I had one goal: move back to my country and change lives. So, when I got an interview with the Psychology department at a leading hospital in Abuja, Nigeria, I quickly flew out to meet a senior manager. My interviewer asked a few questions before he decided I was not the right fit. Then he blurted out, among other comments, “Go get married and have children.”

A good number of people I know will see nothing wrong with this intrusive piece of advice. In fact, it was not until a few years later that I understood the implication of his comments. I had flown home, single, and focused mainly on starting my career. It was his opinion that I focus, instead, on securing my future — not through my career, but by finding a husband.

It is no secret that all over the world, girls and women face discrimination that is (at times) sanctioned by cultural norms. My experience hardly compares to the horrors of child sex slaves in Cambodia, or the rape victims in India, or the millions of girls denied even a primary education.

But, these stories are changing. The fight against women’s oppression (subtle or overt), is no longer a feminist agenda only. Today, many recognize that suppressing a girl is devastating, not just to her, but to her family and her nation.

Today, nations celebrate achievements by women all over the world. More women are in leadership roles, more women are recognized for their global contributions, more women can live like they want to, and more women are prepared to create achievement opportunities for themselves and their protégés.

So, celebrate women creating change. Today and everyday.

Slideshow: Reuters

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Kem Megwalu

Kem runs programs to empower youth in the D.C. Metro Area (United States). She grew up in a low income community in Southeast Nigeria and believes that every young person can be a valuable member of their community. Her writing explores development in education, the arts, and culture of Africa.
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