Lubov Russkina

Lubov Russkina. Image from the BBC.

Recently a lot of articles have cropped up on my news feed centred on the ‚Äòaccepted‚Äô behaviours of girls and woman across societies and around¬†the world. One particular article by the BBC, ‚ÄòWhat does it mean to be a good girl?‚Äô piqued my interest, as the article contains interviews with six different girls from six very different societies. Each girl was interviewed about what her society perceives as the ‚Äòcorrect‚Äô set of behaviours for a teenage girl or young woman. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Naomi Bya’Ombe, aged 15, states that her country‚Äôs education system only ‚Äòprepares girls for marriage‚Äô and that ‚Äòwomen and men should be given the same opportunities in the Congo‚Äô.

This is in contrast to Delaney Osborne, aged 17, from America, who is expecting her first child but still attends school. Delaney can still have a child and attend school, whereas Naomi is expected to marry young and perhaps not continue her education at a tertiary level. It is interesting to note that the girls interviewed that come from third world countries are told that to be a ‘good girl’ one must still have attributes of a house wife, where in developed nations such as the USA and some parts of Pakistan most girls are afforded the right to be whom they want to be. Ayesha Ishtiaq, who is 17 and from Islamabad, Pakistan ,has the right to go to school and be a ‘free spirit’ in a male dominate country. However, Ayesha points out that older male teachers in her school tell her to cover her hair as it ‘will distract her’, whilst younger male teachers do not and are more progressive in their views towards women.

One story whom I found particularly moving was that of Lubov Russkina, who is 22 and lives in remote Siberia. Lubov went to a modern and progressive boarding school in Russia and has access to the internet when she and her indigenous Siberian village travel to large Siberian cities. Lubov received an extensive education and is in charge of many affairs in her native village, but still holds the traditional view that good girls should ‘sew, cook and look after children.’ I found this view interesting as Lubov has been exposed to a variety of thinking during her time at school and in an urban setting, yet she retains what we in the Western world would deem a ‘1950s housewife’ attitude to being a good girl. However, we must not digress that what it takes to be a ‘good girl’ is something that is completely different for different girls and women across the globe. Essentially, there is no one set of rules for ‘good girls’. All girls are good in whatever they achieve; albeit in motherhood, at university or in their careers.

-Rachel Sayers
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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