But the discussion we had with those girls last night, the way they argued with us, was so discouraging. They’ve been told their whole lives by everyone they know that they have to be skinny to get a husband (which is, of course, the most important thing in life), that girls have to look, dress, and act a certain way. Trying to convince them otherwise is such an uphill battle.
None of them play sports. I tried to start a girls’ dance and fitness club and it lasted a couple months before it petered out. That was after my failed sports (for everyone) club. Physical fitness is not a priority for any Turkmen that I’ve discovered. Now, I have “walking” club, which is basically walking home with students after my other clubs and speaking in English. I guess I should be happy they’re willing to do that instead of take a taxi. At least it’s something. But especially for my girls, I want them to be interested in and start playing sports. Sports are so important for girls. Here’s an article I found online that supports me.
I’ve talked before about gender roles here. I feel like I’m beating a dead horse by blogging about it again, but it’s something that doesn’t go away. And it’s not just a problem in Turkmenistan. All around the world, women are treated like second-class citizens, or worse, as chattle. I guess it’s become my soapbox issue.
Anyway, I want to plan a female empowerment seminar for my girls where I talk about great women and the importance of positive self image, etc. What I’d like from you, my readers, is ideas. Especially if you’ve focused on a similar thing as a teacher, former PCV, mentor, etc. Are there activities you can think of that would be useful? And who are some famous women you think should be included in a slide show presentation as role models?