Dozens of secondary students took to the stage on International Women’s Day to advocate for gender equality through speeches, song and dance. One Form 5’s reading of an original poem particularly unified the school community in reflection and celebration.
19-year-old Yasintha stood proudly behind the podium and briefly paused. Her eyes scanned the Smith Secondary Campus auditorium as she inhaled the energy of the crowd and began her stirring recitation.
“Poverty, rejection, pain, worthless… that’s all I’ve been hearing about the woman down the street…”
The Conqueror is an account of a fictional, unnamed woman’s disempowerment and her determination to overcome hardships. It sensitively highlights gender equality issues, while celebrating the strength and resilience of the protagonist.
“They call her ‘Prey’, they call her ‘Nothing’, but I call her ‘Beautiful’, I call her ‘Smart’, I call her ‘Caring’, I call her ‘Daring’, because she is special in every way. She is a woman. She is The Conqueror.”
Yasintha wrote the poem as a tribute to women worldwide who, unlike her, don’t have an opportunity to use their own voices to speak against injustice.
“It felt amazing to have the opportunity to speak [on International Women’s Day]. I was able to speak about the pain of other people who cannot yet speak for themselves. I was inspired to write The Conqueror for these girls and women. At St Jude’s, we are very lucky to be treated fairly. In some villages though, things are not always equal.”
According to US Aid, “less than 20 per cent of women aged 20-24 [in Tanzania] have completed secondary school and 20 per cent have no education at all.” At St Jude’s 51 per cent of the students are female. St Jude’s supporters are helping us close the education gap.
“The willingness to listen makes someone a powerful leader, in addition to speaking. When I finish school, I want to be a petroleum engineer and I will promote women’s rights so I can listen to people’s issues and help them use their voice. Given the chance, I would make sure everyone has courage to be seen as an equal,” Yasintha said. Who inspires this young, visionary leader?
“My mother and Maya Angelou [African-American poet]. My mother, because she has made me the woman I am today. And on International Women’s Day, we were told of a Maya Angelou quote which made me want to learn more: ‘I go forth alone, and stand as ten thousand.’ If I could meet her, I would congratulate her on what she did to help women.”
Yasintha benefits from receiving a high quality education at The School of St Jude. She is already one step ahead of many young women in Tanzania, and is empowered to be a leader in her community. Make a difference to the life of a future leader by sponsoring one of our students.