Riona Judge McCormack is the Regional Communications Officer with an African NGO (www.repssi.org), a job which sees her living in Johannesburg and traveling all over Southern Africa. She loves design, writing and photography, and recently produced a series of short video documentaries based on filming she conducted with community members in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa.
She previously worked with the United Nations Human Rights Office in Cambodia, and holds an M.A. in International Relations from DCU. She sponsors a girl through Plan in Nepal, and occasionally misses Ireland.
Because I am a Girl I ask…why it is I have so much when others have so little, and how do I become part of changing that situation?
Because I am a Girl I believe…that looking back on my life, it is the things I didn’t do that I will regret most. I try to live with this perspective every day. I don’t always succeed.
Because I am a Girl I hope…that I will have the strength to stand up for what I know to be right. I know women who took part in the Black Sash during apartheid, standing in lonely isolation on street corners, against the beliefs of their families and friends. It seems like a small act, but it took daily courage. I would hope that, in the same situation, I would have the necessary courage.
Because I am a Girl I wonder…how to make sure I don’t unintentionally add to another’s burden. You never know what small act could transform someone’s day into something beautiful, or bring someone deeply down. I know myself what a difference a smile or a kind word can make, even from a stranger.
Because I am a Girl I dream…and then do what I can to realise them, even if it is daunting, or nerve-wracking to take the first steps in their direction. I take inspiration from the words of Mandela:.. “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
Because I am a Girl I remember…that I owe so much of who I am to my terrific mother. She taught me to be open to the little wonders in the world, to find expression in small kindnesses, to never doubt my own abilities. Some day I hope to be half the person she is.
Because I am a Girl I like…large quantities of chocolate. Preferably in the company of a good female friend. I’m not sure why this is a girl thing, but experience has taught me that men, however well-intentioned, just don’t quite get the whole chocolate thing.
Because I am a Girl I dislike…that just because women in Ireland enjoy (mostly) equal opportunities, we are ashamed to advocate for women’s rights. I think of all the places in the world a little girl could be born into, and all the barriers that can close around her. Until every girl in this world has an equal chance to lead her own life, we should all (men and women) be vocal feminists.
Because I am a Girl I feel…able to discard my sense of pride when it’s getting in the way. Being able to make fun of yourself is a great way to break the ice in unfamiliar situations, or where you don’t speak the language.
Because I am a Girl I celebrate…the relationships and connections in my life, because these are what makes life joyous
– Riona Judge McCormack