Saturday, October 12, 2013

My dad, education, and the #DayoftheGirl

I only found out late this evening that October 11 is International Day of the Girl, the second one being celebrated by Unicef. It could not have been more opportune than today... for today is also the eve of my late father's birthday - who was my number one fan when it came to supporting me on the education I wanted to pursue.

When I graduated from high school, I pursued a path much different from the path my own parents took. I went to a university and took a course that were not exactly the first choice my parents had for me, but I insisted. The four years that followed were probably the most difficult years in my entire scholastic life... but I persevered and managed to graduate from the degree I had chosen. Soon after, I joined a multinational bank and managed to carve out a small niche for myself. I knew it made my father proud that he had a daughter who worked for a multinational bank in Makati. 

Years later, I ventured into the next scholastic adventure I wanted to take - I wanted to take up an MBA, and I preferred for it to be from an institution outside the country. It was not an easy battle... for my parents believed that the next adventure in store for me was not an MBA, but more like a husband and a family. I insisted on it, paying for all application fees and prerequisites out of my own savings. While all of this was happening, I was slowly convincing my dad to let me go. I had to do that because my savings were only enough to get me through the application phase! Everytime we talked about it, I would get gentle reminders that no man would want marry someone who was much smarter than him; that boys tend to be wary of girls who had too many degrees; that instead of wanting to spend money on another degree, I should worry about my own dowry. It wasn't as if my dad was a chauvinistic pig. It was just that in the family I was born in, the background that I grew up in... a four year course was enough. Anything beyond that was unheard of.

Eventually, with a lot of facts and figures from Business Week, The Financial Times and other business magazines (stuff I was bombarding him with), he let me go. And when I changed his mind... I really changed his mind. Suddenly, it was his great idea that I was going for an MBA. From that day on - til the day of his passing - I strongly believe that he really believed in his heart that it was the best decision to let me go. And for that, I will forever be grateful to him. He (and my mom) rooted for me, cheered me on, scrimped and saved to get me through that one year. What I am today, I owe it to them.

Why do I care about girls getting good education?

1. I am the recipient of a good education, and I am thankful for it every day.

2. I have daughters and nieces. You or someone you know has daughters too.

3. Girls are easily half of the world. Imagine how much better the world could be.

4. We all (whether boys or girls) deserve that one shot to get a better life. Education is key.

And if you're not yet convinced, check out this infographic.

We, in the Philippines, are much better off than the rest of the world. Men and women, boys and girls are treated as equals here. I just hope that even at the more marginalized levels of society, the girls are being given equal opportunities as their male peers/siblings when it comes to education. 

 Finally, this tweet puts such a wonderful, basic perspective to educating little girls.

My Craft

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