My mother gave birth to four strong, powerful girls. I believe she was actually blessed with 16 children because a daughter is equal to four boys.
My mum had been married for more than five years without any children. Then, she married my dad and conceived in her first year of marriage to him. She gave birth to two beautiful twins, of which I am one. Two siblings, Khayra and Ikilima, followed—also girls.
When we were growing up, I constantly heard my dad telling my mum that she should weep for not giving birth to male children. I remember telling my mum to keep calm and to see what we would become. Though she never took my statements seriously, I would tell her we were going to be greater than any boy child could ever be.
My dad has three wives and 17 children. Two of my mum’s co-wives have given birth to all males. Being in a polygamous family made my mum depressed, especially when she saw the pride the other wives had for their sons. In order to support our mum, my sisters and I took up the challenge of breaking norms. We assisted in the construction of our new house; we painted and did plumbing work. We assisted our mum in her trading to boost her income so that she would never regret giving birth to us.
Despite his initial reaction, our dad never discriminated amongst his children when it came to our pursuit of knowledge. We are nine girls and eight boys. All of us were given equal opportunities by our dad. Out of the nine girls, eight have successful completed senior high school; seven made their way to the tertiary level. One became a nurse, one a midwife; three are trained teachers; one is an entrepreneur, and one a civic leader. Then, there is our kid sister who has just completed senior high school and is yet to go to the tertiary level.
With our male counterparts, out of the eight boys, five have completed senior high and only three have been able to complete tertiary education. Two are teachers, one a business executive. So I asked my mum, “Do you still think our brothers are better than us?” You know what the answer is: It’s a big “No!”
We are super girls.
With perseverance and belief in ourselves, we broke the myth. Now our mums are all proud of us. One of my half-sisters even paid the expenses for her mum to visit the Holy City of Mecca in 2014. After this happened, I asked my mum again, “Is the male child better than the female child?” And the answer still stands: “No.”
This year, I made my mum proud by bringing home the Environmental Youth Activist Award at the African CleanUp Conference in Nigeria. Upon hearing this, she could not hide her joy. I told her to prepare for greater things to come because I’m still climbing the stage.
In the beginning, my mum had it in her mind that she should cry over not giving birth to a male child. Trust me, now she is rejoicing for having given birth to four beautiful, inspirational women. Now, she has come to believe and understand that if the girl child is empowered, she can attain her full potential and be even more economically supportive than her male counterpart.
As women, we have to break the myth that girls are not as strong or as valuable as boys. I know that we are the best ones to pick up this challenge to change the way people view us. Let’s tell the world that it is not disappointing or embarrassing to give birth to girls. Let’s tell the world we are proud to be girls!
Mma Hsana is a contributor from Ghana. This piece was originally published on World Pulse. Sign up to get international stories of women leading social change delivered to your inbox every month here.