I Want to Be a Doctor


The cultural walls that divide the global village are crumbling, enabling girls in developing countries to conceive of futures unimaginable to their mothers. In the Ethiopian village of Moulo, 10-year-old Zelalem Abera, the niece of Zenebu Tulu, pictures herself as a doctor. Despite the dissonance between such dreams and what is available to women in poor nations, the fact that a young girl can imagine controlling her own future is itself progress.

Q: Can women do everything men can do?

Abera: Men are stronger than women, I believe.

Q: What does your mother do?

Abera: She makes coffee. She makes injera and wat. She goes to market. She collects firewood. She fetches water. Pounds some cereals. She washes clothes.

Q: She sounds like she is a verY strong woman to do all this work. Is she not as strong as your father?

Abera: My father makes pans, which she cannot do, for example. He can chop wood, which my mother cannot sometimes do. He plows and my mother doesn’t.

Q: What are the jobs that your mother can do that your father cannot do?

Abera: My mother is responsible only in the house.

Q: Why is it important for a girl to go to school?

Abera: To be educated and to live well.

Q: Do you want to have a job when you are big?

Abera: Yes, I want to be a doctor.

Q: Have you met a doctor before?

Abera: No.

Q: What does a doctor do?

Abera: He treats patients.

Q: And what kind of sicknesses do you want to help people with?

Abera: If somebody has a stomachache, I’ll gIve some medicines. If somebody has a headache, I’ll give some medical drugs for headache.

Q: And where will you live?

Abera: I want to live in Addis. I like Addis.

Q: Do you want to have a husband and children when you grow up?

Abera: No. I don’t want to get married. I don’t want to have children.

Q: If you go to Addis, become a doctor, and do not have a husband and children, will you live alone and take care of yourself?

Abera: Yes, I can live without children and a husband.