I once thought that I was to be the next Virgin Mary. I was 12.
It had been two successive months since my last period. Concerned, I re-visited the wisdom of my science textbooks. Indeed, pregnancy was the sole plausible prognosis. Tucked away in an all-girls boarding school, I hadn’t so much as seen, let alone hold hands with a boy. It had to be an immaculate conception. I was to be the virgin Chidiogo.
I recall the fear in my heart and the tears that flowed to calm the little girl living far away from home. No one would believe me, I would be ostracized, a disgrace! Uncertain and afraid, I simultaneously steeled my heart for the strength and courage needed to carry this burden of responsibility.
It was Eno, my friend and ‘corner mate’ who managed to console me with her knowledge, an oversight in our science books, of irregularities that are common at the onset.
It has been many years since that faithful Saturday in Nigeria and seated on my couch in Geneva on Christmas day, I smile at the girl that once was and honor women all over the world and the depth of the strength of a woman — picture the ferocity of a mother hen.
We as a world are at crossroads. A new narrative is desperately sought by the many who do not identify with injustice and hate. It is my belief that now more than ever, there is a need for leaders that can inspire conscious citizens, growing in justice and love.
There is an under-tapped strength in a woman. By withholding education, various access, security, freedom, her life bear tales of body shame, sexual suppression, child-marriage, sexual violence, sexual harassment, human trafficking, physical violence and a plethora of workplace discrimination.
The road ahead is arduous and the herculean task of a better world is rendered even more difficult when society continues to rob women of the equal access needed to contribute to the fullness of our potential. By depriving the world of the full power of its women, we are robbing ourselves of infinite possibilities. Yin-Yang, the center must hold or else things will always fall apart.
Gender parity is not a plea for equality. It is a demand to allow us together, men and women, to put the best parts of our shared humanity to work and heal the world.
This is the #WorldWeShape.
I am because you are. You are because we are.
Chidiogo Akunyili is the Founder of She ROARs – Reimagining Our Africa Rising — empowering women across Africa to unleash their full potential and that of the continent. She is a writer, storyteller, and movement builder who is impacting global narrative based on her belief in the power of people to change the world. Her philosophy is founded on the humanist African concept of Ubuntu upholding and celebrating our shared humanity.
Having lived and worked across 5 continents, Chidiogo speaks 7 of the world’s languages including Chinese, English, French, German, Igbo, Italian and Spanish — invaluable tools that bridge lives, people and their global realities.
She is a World Economic Forum Global Leadership Fellow and Associate Fellow of Nigerian Leadership Initiative. She was named ‘100 most influential Young Africans’, ‘100 most Influential Nigerians’, ‘Young Professional of the Year’ and ‘100 most inspiring women in Nigeria’.