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?
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.