I grew up in a society that exudes toxic masculinity. I hated it because it instilled fear in me. Growing up, I never understood why men and even young boys would easily get away with certain things simply because of their gender. It bothers me that men can get off scot-free for publicly ‘disciplining’ their girlfriends or wives.

I ask the question; why do women and girls have to endure all the abuse because of their gender? Simply put, we are taught to. We are taught to know ‘our place’ as women, we are taught that we should respect and obey our male counterparts  merely because they are male, and irrespective of how they regard us.

Just as we women have been taught to put ourselves second to men. So can we learnthat men and women are equal and that we (women) too belong. Feminism is not about women being selfish or wanting more than men, but rather its women wanting to be treated equally to/and by men because we deserve that.

Akili Dada’s mission which envisions a world in which African women leaders are actively participating in key decision-making processes across sectors’ mirrors and supports what I believe in. This organisation actively takes steps towards altering the patriarchal systems that exist in Africa specifically, and to be a part of that is a privilege.

Having completed my minor in Gender Studies, my interest in women’s rights increased, as well as advocating for those who are underserved and those who do not have a voice. I am a feminist! I strongly believe that one’s gender should not increase or decrease one’s access to opportunities. We are all entitled to the same respect, education and job opportunities. I believe that the patriarchal world in which we live has the potential to be altered, by changing the way in which society perceives and understands gender and gender roles. This will be achieved through education.

My life mantra: Don’t compare your life to others. There’s no comparison between the sun and the moon. They shine when it’s their time-

Stephanie J Brown

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