Leila Jade Lane Student Take-Over Day reflections
- Category: News
- Published: Wednesday, 31 March 2021 06:05
- Written by Bill Jaynes
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“Catalyst for Change”
At a young age, I arrived in Pohnpei from the states. Straight off, I was not cooperative with the foregrounded distinctions between the roles of men and women. I was not able to cotton on to how women were passive, and men considered the heirs to the throne. Day in, day out, I would receive disciplinary blows for not complying to the discouraging and misogynistic attitudes woven in Pohnpeian culture. There was and never will be anything under the sun that could help make the gender-biased system in Pohnpei appealing or dare one say tolerable to me. "Leila. Your cousin is full. Come clean up because you are the girl," my grandma would say. Similarly, she would ask, "Why is your cousin chopping the pork when you are the girl?"
Being the "girl" was I the only one with the supernatural power to clean? Or did I fall under the only gender with the aptness to cook? I was surprised because I was under the impression that everyone regardless of gender needed nutrition to survive and inevitably needed the propensity to produce such.
Moreover, given the facts about Pohnpeian family structure, I assumed that my mom would be superior in the family for she was the eldest of twelve. Then to my dismay, the elders clarified how the prestige would be given to our uncle, the second eldest, for he was the male and soon to be the caretaker of the family.
Incredulous were the incidents I encountered. Getting used to the gender disparity of the Pohnpeian Household was something I could never ascribe. A great stimulus to gender equality I found myself to be. I have to nonetheless seeing that these nurtured norms are what has contributed to the gender gap in our society today.
Analogously, residents are resistant to the idea of women holding high positions of power in government believing such seats belong to men. Since the birth of the Federated States of Micronesia till this very day, there has never been a woman elected to congress or any executive branch position pertaining to the matter. Thus, I have decided to be our catalyst for change. For so long, our traditional beliefs have continued to undermine the dignity of Micronesian women, and I will have it no more.
Come what will, I refuse to let these distorted principles ruffle my feathers. The FSM has to wake up and realize that we need women in office now. When it comes to the decision-making process of our country, we need that female perspective. We demand it! Men and women complement each other. Not in any way are women subsidiary. To look at it from a different perspective, we can say that men have the expertise of constructing a house, but it is the woman who has the proper competence to arrange and structure the house. If not hand in hand, if we do not establish proper census, then our country will never grow to be the noteworthy nation we need it to be.
We need change and I have been making steps of my own to be just that. On February 23, 2021, at the age 17, I made history by being the first ever female to sit in the seat of the Speaker for Pohnpei State Legislature and carry out the legislative roles in the chamber.
Though it was a temporary assignment, it impacted not only me but the whole state in ways we cannot fully grasp. Present there were only three female senators. They shared how they are now prompted to sit in the seat in the future. I seemed to have had the honor to spark a flame of revolutionary stimulation, and I now entrust it not only to them but all Micronesia to keep it burning.