Why I love female heroes and
why the world should too

I was disturbed by an article in the New York Times about how the coronavirus is exploding across the developing world and how ill equipped these regions are to fight it. In the Central African Republic, for example, there are only three ventilators for a population of five million. In some countries, there are none at all.

The real devastation is yet to come, in the form of economic disaster and its impact on nutrition, child mortality, vaccination and education. In many developing regions when economic challenges occur, girls and young women too often absorb the worst of it.

“We know that when families don’t have enough food, they sometimes feed their sons while starving their daughters, or they marry off their daughters as child brides,” said Nicholas Kristof from the Times. “So, we may see more girls go hungry, more girls pulled out of school permanently, and more girls married in their early teens.”

The potential fallout on our girls is so disturbing, it got me thinking just how important it is to change the narrative about girls in popular culture. Please, I’m not advocating this over putting food in hungry tummies and providing much needed medical care, what I am saying is it’s also important to change the narrative and thereby alter perceptions about our girls’ place in society.

Some of you may know, that my debut novel Found and Lost will be released soon. I’ve attempted to write this story (of a child that gets trapped in a cave with a monk and learns the mystical arts) several times. It was only when I changed the hero from a boy to a girl that the story took off, and left me hanging onto my keyboard trying to keep up.

As a storyteller, and mother of a strong daughter, I take responsibility to open readers’ eyes to the endless possibilities for girls everywhere, so they can see themselves reflected in more places than just the mirrors in their bathroom.

Found and Lost (book one of The Great Way series) is the story of Lucy Lewis, who after being rescued from the cave, goes on more than just the typical hero’s journey. It’s the story of a normal girl, who acquires mystical Siddhis (powers) and is tasked with easing the suffering of others. While Lucy is the epitome of wisdom and inner strength, she is also vulnerable and imperfect just like all of us.

Some of the things I learnt from Lucy’s character and about girls is,

  • Girls have to “kick down more doors” to get what they want.
  • Girls have a wellspring of strength and ability to kick those doors right off their hinges.
  • Girls have the ability to keep getting back up. They have true grit.
  • Lucy, like most girls, is strong, complex, and capable but also vulnerable, self-doubting and real.
  • Lucy can be a stepping-stone to a new generation of open-minded and equally empowered adults.

Studies have shown that media has a concrete impact on how we relate to people who are different to us. Women have spent their whole life being taught that men are the only heroes that will make everything alright. It’s time to realise that women are strong, smart and capable.

At this unprecedented time, let’s not put more obstacles in the way of our girls, but rather put them on an equal pedestal and let them show the world their true power.

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