Justina Pokuaa, 17, Ghana

2017-03-16-PHOTO-00000004What is your story of strength?

An example of my strength is a situation in which I came across one boy and one girl and the boy was trying to bully the girl. I went to ask what was going on and to listen to both of them. The girl was treated unfairly, and because the boy had the strength to beat the girl he decided he could mistreat her. I came across them and decided to show her the power of being a woman. So I stood up to the boy and verbally reprimanded him, and at the end of the day he was ashamed of himself and he left the girl alone. I wanted to teach the boy that he can’t mistreat someone just because he is a boy, and that whatever a boy can do, a woman can do, too. It encouraged me to become strong and to stand as a woman wherever I find myself.

Another story is when I made a promise to myself that I am not going to let any man whatsoever abuse my rights, or infringe upon my rights. I was once in a situation in which a boy sexually abused me. I was disappointed with myself. I even thought God would not forgive me, or that it was my fault. After that day I became depressed and I felt disappointed, until I met one of my mentors and told her my story. She comforted and motivated me and now I have become at peace with it.  

One thing I can say about myself is that I am the type of girl who is very bold. I can stand wherever I find myself and express myself no matter the people who are there. I hope this teaches other girls that they can fight and stand up to  boys who mistreat them so that we can empower more ladies in the future.

Can you tell me about a woman in your life that embodies strength?

A woman I admire and respect most is my mentor. Her name is Angela, and she is a role model to me. I respect this woman. She’s an extraordinary woman. She is beautiful and respectful and she humbles herself to whoever she comes across no matter who it is – an adult, a youth, or even a child. Apart from being humble, she always advises me and motivates me when I feel discouraged or depressed. She is my backbone. I really love her being part of my life because, suppose I didn’t meet her, I don’t know where I would have been.

Can you tell me about a time you failed or disappointed yourself?

I have had so many experiences in my life, both successes and failures that I wish to share with girls of our generation. A time in which I disappointed myself is when I was in junior high school and I was about to compete. I promised myself and my parents that I am going to learn hard and pass my exams so that I can get into one of the best secondary schools in Ghana. It was the school of my dreams. I learned when the results were out that I didn’t get the grade I wanted for myself or for my parents. As a result of that I disappointed myself and my parents and I couldn’t go to the school I always dreamed of attending. However, I’m not disappointed in myself anymore. I just learned that I must always work hard to achieve my goals, but more importantly I must never give up.

How can women better support each other?

We can better encourage other girls by motivating each other whenever another girl is depressed. Also by encouraging them to join girls leadership programs at their schools so that they can become good leaders in society and they can know their rights, which nobody can take away from them. In Ghana, we are taught so many things in these programs that were hidden from us before, so I want to motivate girls to join in their schools. They can also support themselves by better understanding themselves and not discriminating against themselves. They can better support themselves financially and also in terms of education. This can make women become more at ease so they can grow to be some of the great leaders in our society.

I think in the future Ghana will be a country of gender equality. We must first have equality in the law. We must all grow up to be one nation and one people and can promote unity among our nation. I think one day Ghana could even have a female president. Maybe it will be me!

*Special thanks to Elissa Furlong, co-contributor and interviewer for this week’s post! For more information on the Girls Leadership Program referenced by Justina, please visit http://www.exponentialeducationprogram.org/

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