So here’s the second episode of #TheFutureIsFemale featuring my personal Joe Biden, sister, partner in crime and my right hand woman – Alexa (Johara) Chukwumah! Alexa is extremely passionate about women’s rights and I had to feature her in this series as her point of view is usually a mirror image of mine!
(LJS) Hey girl! Thank you for taking part in this!
(AJC) Hey Laila! I’m extremely happy to!
(LJS) Great, let’s kick off. What does being a 21st century woman mean to you?
(AJC) A 21st century woman is a woman that is socially conscious. I think having an awareness of one’s environment and social and political history is integral to a 21st century woman, and for this reason we are equipped with knowledge to defend ourselves and our rights. We are powerful and we cannot be silenced. There is no one type of 21st century woman, but if I were to generalize I would say a 21st century woman is someone who is empowered and empowers others.
(LJS) Yup, I couldn’t agree more. Social consciousness is extremely important for woman of the twenty-first century. It is crucial for success but also for protection. What barriers have you faced as a woman today?
(AJC) I don’t believe I have faced any barriers structurally, but I would say there are barriers that society has put up that I have fallen victim to. For example, not feeling like I am qualified or smart enough to take up an opportunity due to the strong presence of men historically within an industry. It’s like there have been mental barriers erected by society and then maintained by me that I think have hindered me in the past. However, recognizing these systems now are what have allowed me to progress and move forward.
(LJS) Mental barriers to success have hindered me too. I often feel like I want to pursue something but because it is a male dominated field, I won’t be respected. For example I remember when I was asked what my dream job is and I said to become the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria – the room was silent. Any way, would you say you recognize yourself as a feminist? If so, what type of feminist are you?
(AJC) Honestly, these are barriers we have to break Laila. Not only for us, but also for other women and girls who need hope. Yes, I am a pan-African feminist. This means that my feminism specifically focuses on the liberation of people of African birth or descent. I think globally women are marginalized, but the specific way in which it manifests on the continent of Africa or within Black communities is particularly unique. My maternal grandmother is Igbo and comes from a rich history of feminism, and it is very important for me to contribute to that her story. Through a lot of the work I do, I focus on reshaping and rewriting African womanhood as I believe we are solely responsible for defining ourselves and our experiences – no one else.
(LJS) That’s beautiful. Pan-African Feminism is extremely important for us African women today who are often oppressed by patriarchy and cultural bias. When did you first recognize the fact that gender inequality exists?
(AJC) I think like many women it has been something we have noticed from childhood, but it was accepted as a norm. However, I believe I became more actively aware of gender inequality at around age 15.
(LJS) When you’re faced with barriers because of your gender, how do you overcome them?
(AJC) I haven’t faced structural barriers as a woman and I think that is as a result of my class privilege and family. However, I have a strong community of women that I look up to who always remind me that this cause and our lives are a marathon and not a sprint. Any barrier is a minor setback and absolutely nothing can hold us back.
(LJS) Yes, coming from a fortunate home definitely gives us an advantage, but it also doesn’t eradicate the issues that we face as women. What is your greatest achievement so far?
(AJC) Exactly. My greatest achievement has to be having the courage to go for my dreams – so that is applying and gaining admission into Brown University, that is working alongside you with the We Rise Initiative and my blog. My resilience and determination is something I am extremely proud of and I owe that to the many women who have raised me and molded me into who I am today.
(LJS) Having you working with me on the We Rise Initiative is a dream come true for me! We’ve got a lot of work to do sister! What does “The Future Is Female” mean to you?
(AJC) We sure do! As women, we will occupy any and all spaces that we believe we belong in. We will not let anyone’s beliefs of our abilities determine our future. We will take positions in office and male-predominate institutions. We will protect and nurture ourselves in the hopes of creating a better future for others. We will be unapologetic, and we will rise.
Alexa Johara is a writer and lifestyle blogger who aspires to inspire people to live healthy and fulfilling lives. She aims to promote self love and positive vibrations with her biweekly posts on Wednesday’s and Sunday’s. She is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in International Relations and Anthropology at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.