World Conference on Youth 2014: Gender Equality

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When I was 8 years old, I had to stand in front of the class to read aloud from a textbook. While the rest feared that moment, I was anticipating it, so having memorised the page before, I looked up from my textbook and started reciting the words to my classmates. For a few seconds, I felt joy and the idea of my teacher being proud of me made me stand taller. It did not take long though, before I felt the painful grip of my arm and the shock of my teacher’s hand slamming my face. I could never forget the pain and shame I felt, being humiliated by my teacher in front of the class. Of course, my good grades never showed on the rapport card! It angered me to see them give my privileges to the boys in my class, because they were the teacher’s sons. They were rewarded for being lazy and I was punished for being an eager learner.

Therefore, being a former Kurdish refugee from Iraq, I know first hand how hard it is for a young girl growing up in a male dominant society.

Gender Equality, the 3rd of the Millennium Goals, is every human’s fundamental right. It is a necessary condition for reducing poverty, sustainable development, decent work and social cohesion. Unfortunately, discrimination against women and girls is still the most consistent form of inequality.

Child marriage and arranged marriage are still happening all around the world. In many countries, young girls are to stay home and learn to cook and clean until they get married, where they go to the next level of cooking and cleaning combined with giving birth. While the guy goes out exploring his youth, the girl must learn to suppress her creativity and put her own needs aside. The word shame is fed to you from the moment you are born as a girl.

Living in The Netherlands, a country that topped the list of the UN Gender Equality, I was fortunate enough to have access to good education. But not every girl gets that opportunity. Although there have been some small improvements in developing countries, we still need to make a high jump in order to get close to having equal rights. Education is one of the most important factors of empowerment. Young women can have the power to change the future of women’s rights by having access to good education. This gives us the ability to create our own jobs, become good leaders and improve the lives of other girls. We need to reach out to other girls/women and learn and develop through interactions, empowerment trainings, training in women’s rights, sexual education, opening networks with hospitals, the police and radio hotlines. It is important to understand the power of social media interaction, a way for young girls to come together and create broad social bases. However, it is equally important to involve the community in the process of empowerment and emancipation of young women. If you want to change the situation, it is necessary to involve the surrounding.

We need to imagine equal rights and use creativity to achieve that right!
Lets get together and get the best out of the World Conference on Youth 2014!

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My nemesis is poking in my ear!

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It seems that every door I try to open lately, slams back in my face. I wonder if the universe is trying to tell me something. Note to the universe, if so, please stop slamming doors in my face! Although I am struggling with my self constantly to stay positive and not let any of this get to me, there is always that small but sharp voice inside that manages to get in my head very shrewdly and kill whats left of my positivity. How cool would it be though, if that shrewd voice was coming from a tiny cartoon character with a white dress and two fire red horns that pop up from time to time when I’m busy daydreaming about all the good that has yet to come! It will swoosh itself around my neck, from one ear to the other, pocking its beautiful but deadly pitchfork in my ear, whispering all my failures and not to mention the ones yet to come!
Unfortunately, my imagination lacks the strength to come up with a worthy adversary to my tiny ear whispering deviant.

Understanding my old and new year

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Somehow I always find New Year’s Eve to be the loneliest night of the year. Maybe I am being overly sentimental and this is all overrated but every year I look out the window wishing that next year I will have someone to look out the window with. It seems that this is not the lucky year either…

The sound of the fire work, the explosions and the bright colours all remind me of the dreadfulness I bared for the past year. Every hit made me realise that I barely understood myself anymore and with it others. I needed to experience something a couple of times before I understood it. But doesn’t understanding always require some kind of effort? After all, would you admire someone who was good at everything without costing her any effort?

I do not mind the effort and the reasons that will keep me going I hold dearly to my heart. One of the most important lessons I have learned for the past year is that I do not want to be pieces of other people! And now I can say with confidence that everything I learned in the old year, I can put positively in practice in the new year.

I am lucky enough to still find small things in life that lift my spirit and I am the luckiest of all to have my beloved beside me.

Happy new year!

Sylvia Plath nights

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The melancholy music, the wet eyelashes that stain my glass lenses by laying on the bed in exasperation, while the word ‘disappointment’ is being dissected and observed under the microscope of my subconscious…

“If you expect nothing from anybody, you’re never disappointed.”

One of my favourite writing by women comes from Sylvia Plath. To me, that’s clearly a women who knew how to write. Recently I started reading back some pages from The Bell Jar, very depressing, obviously, but nevertheless a beautiful madness. She probably didn’t think to herself that her only novel will attain her a cult following for sticking her head in an oven! And I never thought that taking advice about disappointment from a depressed writer would be my Aha! moment.

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Train musings

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It occurred to me today, while coming home from work, that I spent about 12 hours a week on the train. And if I count the occasional “meeting friends”, those 12 hours quickly turn into 15. But for 3 hours a day, 4 days a week, the train is my home and I share it with the strangers going on and off the stations. It is the only time that I can be around people and not care about answering questions, listen to stories I am not interested in and have that moment completely for me and my thoughts.

But sometimes I wonder, who are all these stranger? All these diverse and colourful people that come in every possible shape and size, with familiar languages to languages I only thought existed in star trek movies. While dragging my exhausted body on the train, I always manage to scan my tiresome eyes around at my fellow travellers before I find a seat to crash into. I love to sit at the window side, leaning against the often beautiful outward view where my thoughts automatically start to wander around, but once in a while, I cannot help but glance at these pretty unusual individuals whom I don’t know, but find myself to be completely comfortable around.

With the music in my ear shutting out all the noise, I observe the businessman, the sleepy head, the reader, the student, the loud mouths, the bag lady and the phone addict. They all seem to have adapted to certain roles on the train. I look over at the reader, sitting with his briefcase next to him and his eyes fixated on his book. He is not aware of his surrounding nor does he care because his book takes him to a world probably much more exciting than his own. I think about the book that is always in my bag and wonder if I am “the reader” too. I take a look at my left, where the old gentlemen sits, a type I really enjoy seeing during my trips. A type that usually greets before he takes his seat, asks politely whether I am done with reading the newspapers that you usually find on the train and wishes me a friendly good day before he takes off. It always amazes me how such small gestures make my day, because in the end, it is the smallest of touches that move me in ways bigger than anything else. And there is “the space stealing bag lover” who either doesn’t want anyone to sit next to her or she just really loves her bag! Does she not care about that one individual standing for half an hour after a long working day? Shouldn’t anyone say something about it? Should I, I wonder?

But then I get distracted by the sound of girls laughing so I turn my music up, lean my head against the window and watch the sun go down on the never ending Dutch flat land. And if I close my eyes for a few moments and forget all my worries, I am grateful, because trains make me feel like there is always a way to get to where I wish to be.

Calm waters

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Oh, courage, where have you gone off to? Why have you abandoned me?
I need you now as I must write a new book for my life. Will you hold my left hand, while my right hand is filling the pages? Pages with new hopes and new dreams, new laughters and new tears. The winds are heavy and the rain is fierce but I need calm waters for my soil to breathe.
Come back, please.

Childhood reminiscing

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Once I was rich. I had a book in my hand and emeralds at my feet. Marvellous green emeralds shining so brightly, that when you looked straight at them, you would never be able to see another colour besides green ever again. Not only did they sparkle ever so vividly in the sun, but they were as valuable as they were beautiful! My parents did not need to sell the furniture because my emeralds will compensate for it. My parents most definitely did not need to sell my toys, because my smallest emerald of all could buy out not only my toys, but provide a toy store for all the children of the neighbourhood! And my parents obviously did not need to flee the country because my marvellous green emeralds were so powerful that they could stop the war just by shimmering their light unto evil!

Of course in reality, my marvellous green emeralds were merely plain rocks coloured by green markers and the only power they had, was breaking someones head in pieces. Luckily for me, my imagination for the world of books was stronger than my will to break the head of that teachers pet from my class! Although I could not read it very well myself, I always had The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in my hand, and having heard the story over and over again, I could imagine myself living in The Emerald City, surrounded by nothing but glowing green light. I would make a circle out of my green emerald rocks and sit in the middle pretending I was Dorothy. But my imagination twisted the ending. There was a big difference between the Dorothy from the book and the Dorothy sitting in the circle. While Dorothy from the book desperately wanted to leave The Emerald City to go home, I, the Dorothy with the green emerald rocks, most determinedly did not!

Ironically, my parents not only ended up selling my toys, but my book got lost in the process as well. And my marvellous green emeralds? Well… they became one with the ground, forever lost in sand and mud…

I wrote this piece about my childhood a while ago for someone very special to me. He is the one who always believed in me and encouraged me to write. It is because of him that I feel myself slowly, but surely, becoming the me I always dreamt of being. Somehow he sees something in me…

I may not have my marvellous emeralds anymore, but I have him.
I am the wealthiest girl in the world.

The sound of the rain

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It is dark outside and I am standing at the window to nourish the shadows, shadows that turn off the occasional car lights coming through the curtains. It’s completely silent. The rain is falling from the sky like an angry waterfall, as if wanting to create awareness. Even cars try to break through this tormented silence. But all is quiet inside me. My body, my thoughts, my being… I only hear the echo of melancholy through some fragments of inconsistent thoughts.

But how strange this melancholy feels! Nothing seems to be changing this sense of estrangement that I feel at this moment and I cannot help but focus on the rhythmic sound of the rain that surrounds this quiet and dark room I am finding myself in. The almost bewitching sound of rain, carving its way through my veins, making me belief it can heal anything and wash away my sorrows…

Putting fingers before feelings

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It’s been years since I wanted to start a blog, but I kept postponing it, procrastinating as usual. Honestly, I was just afraid of failing and giving up in the process like I always do once I start with something creative. I don’t know why exactly. Maybe it’s the lack of energy, lack of inspiration, motivation… lack of something! Another reason is that I never really knew how to begin writing. I guess at times my imagination made me believe that I can do anything but when the pen hits the paper, it’s not the ink that is wasted.

When I was young my father used to say that I should never let my time pass by without doing anything creative. This I managed to do perfectly fine until my late teens. Unfortunately, since then everything has been going downwards and I have lost myself in everyday life.

I did still had these amazing feelings, so inspirational, feelings that appear very promising on the surface, but you know the thing about feelings? Sometimes they just deflate like a balloon!

With this thought in mind I have decided to abandon all feelings, trust my imagination, open my laptop and start using my long, thin fingers to type!

I hope you will manage to find a few sentences to enjoy here!