I was born in a pretty feminist family. Especially my Mom. Since I was a kid, my Mom always told me to grow up and be an independent woman. A woman who can take care of herself, who is brave, who can think critically, who is brave enough to use her voice. Growing up being a woman, I never felt restricted by my gender. I’ve never been given any limit to do anything just because I’m a woman. Even since I was kid, my days were filled with numerous activities. Not only at school, but also extracurricular activities. From sports to arts. My Mom never complained that I spent too much time outside. She was actually the one who always drove me everywhere I go. Starting from early morning to the evening, driving through Jakarta’s traffic. Even after I graduated high school, my Mom suggested me to move to a different country and pursue my Bachelor degree in Europe. Imagine having your daughter living in Germany, all by herself. I never had any experience living independently away from my parents before. But she still encouraged me to do it. She said that living overseas independently would change me for the better. It could make me a stronger person. I could get more opportunities. It could broaden my horizon. In short, I had never seen that being a woman is a disadvantage. It changed when I started having different circles. Whether it’s friendship or on social media. I started meeting different people and learned about their story. Then I noticed these gender stereotypes that can or actually limit women. I started hearing these stereotypes that women have to act a certain way. You must have certain behaviour. You have to be quiet and obedient. In the society, I often heard this narrative that women should only take care of domestic activities. Our purpose in this world is only to be a wife and a mother. You are not a real woman, if you’re not any of that. Especially if you’re a Muslim woman, it gets more complicated. We are often trapped between two extreme narratives. First, a rigid traditional Muslim narrative that makes women the moral standard in society. And a Western Islamophobic narrative that says Muslim women are oppressed and isolated. I have had a teacher at one of the schools in Indonesia told me that there are a lot of her female students quit school. The reason of it is that their parents think that education is not a priority for their daughters and they prefer their daughters to get married young. As a result, there are many female younger than me who already have kids and became widow, because at the end, their husband tend to leave and divorce them, who is normally a lot older. The more I look around me, the more I realize that there are so many women out there stuck in patriarchal culture. Let’s talk about education. There is this narrative that said that women don’t have to go to school because it’s the men who are gonna lead the family. There is also a narrative that said that women do not need to have an amazing career because the men will be the breadwinner in the family. Based on Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed by the United Nations in 1948, education is a human right, not a privilege. Everybody, whoever they are, all gender, deserves to get education. Unfortunately the reality is a little bit different. Forget about formal education. There are 758 million people in the world who are illiterate and 2/3 of them are women. In Indonesia, women attend school on average of only 8,1 years. This is caused by numerous factors. Not only gender stereotypes and patriarchy, poverty, violence against women, are to blame. Actually, education can help women to lead an independent life of dignity. It can help them get out of poverty. It can help them to make their own decision. It can also help to educate themselves on sexual and reproductive health. In the household, women’s participation can increase the economy. Based on Education for All Global Monitoring Report in 2013-2014, in Pakistan, women with good literacy skills in a workplace earned 95% more than those who are uneducated. And these incomes can help to bring prosperity to the household. Moreover, women’s participation can help increase global economy, too. See? That being said, education is the solution for problems we are currently facing. I am honestly heartbroken whenever I visited rural areas in Indonesia and heard stories about how women are being treated. They have to struggle just to succeed. They’re not allowed to have dreams. They’re not allowed to go to school or have career in the future, even though they deserve to get all of that. On this International Day of The Girl Child, I would like to invite you to join me to raise awareness about the importance of female education. I want you to share your stories on being a woman and how important education is for you.