Guest post By Munira Twarhir

I have never identified myself with my gender. I have never walked up in a room and introduced myself as Munira THE WOMAN. I had actively refused to participate in the “feminist” movement. I thought it had negative connotations to it. If we all focus on raising and empowering great women what will happen to the men of our community who were born from the same womb as us? Therefore, I shared my sentiments only in private conversations.

I was also afraid of been controversial. Society has done a good job of illustrating powerful, outspoken women as aggressive and controversial. “A woman’s place in society is to speak through the man”.

Munira Twahir, a 2016 Akili Dada fellow and writer of this blog post.

Munira Twahir, a 2016 Akili Dada fellow and writer of this blog post.

I never said or thought anything before because I was never exposed to sexism or discrimination based on my anatomy. I was raised in a house that empowered me as a daughter to raise up and do whatever it was that I wanted to do. The thought of I couldn’t do it because I am a woman never came up. Ever.

Unfortunately, as I grew older I realized that the perfect utopia I was living in was an illusion. I was very sheltered to the harshness of the bigger society. Within my circle of normal I began to notice women belittling women. I started interacting with half-baked egotistical men. Who for some odd reason believe I was created to serve them. The more I grew the more I began acknowledging that our society is still very much a man’s world.

Still I kept my mouth shut. There were too many women shouting for female empowerment. Adding my own voice would in turn create noise. I have talked to so many male peers who believe it is a movement to put them down. Clearly, there is something wrong to the approach of female empowerment that is yet to be addressed and addressed adequately. I knew all this yet, I still kept quiet.

The first time I was in a setting for women by women was in the Akili Dada offices. I was drawn back that the entire office was simply women. I have never been in an establishment that men were a rarity. I think this was the first introduction to change within me. As the day for the fellow training approached I anticipated more about the training than the interaction with my fellow fellows. Simply because I had never realized that this was a cause to empower women in business to succeed. Without knowing it I was going to be a part of a movement I had tried to shy away from or at the very least be its benefactor.

Munira Twahir's project is on the sale of sanitary towels in single units for that 'oops' moment.

Munira Twahir's project is on the sale of sanitary towels in single units for that 'oops' moment.

During graduation of the 2015 fellows I started realizing that the room was filled with accomplished, driven, self-assured, smart women. I began to feel inadequate. I began to feel as if just maybe I did not deserve to be in this room and be called a woman. For I was never THE WOMAN.

 

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