They told her that her body belonged to men and her mind didn't matter. They were wrong. “What if I don't want to marry?” Lillian held her breath. She had never said the words out loud. “Not want to marry?” Her aunt frowned. “What else would you do?”
Set in a Ugandan village, Lilian has learned to shrink herself to fit other people's ideas of what a girl is. In her village a girl is not meant to be smarter than her brother. A girl is not meant to go to school or enjoy her body or decide who to marry. Especially if she is poor.
Inspired by and written in consultation with young Ugandan women, I Am Change is the tragic but empowering story of how a young girl finds her voice and the strength to fight for change.
Suzy Zail met Nakamya Lillian, a twenty nine year-old Ugandan visiting Australia in 2015 and listened to her story. From this meeting, Suzy decided to add more voices and visited thirty impoverished Ugandan girls in their villages and slums. From this trip came Lillian’s story, in I Am Change.
Lillian is a good girl seeking nothing more than an education, and who loves learning and is very bright. Lillian’s brother has no aptitude or interest in school, but the family would never consider him leaving, however, for Lillian, it’s a struggle to get her family to keep sending her to school.
I Am Change looks at the gender based cultural discrepancies that still exist to limit opportunities for girls in the world today.
With themes of women’s rights, genital mutilation and forced marriage, this book is clearly aimed at a more senior reader, 15 and older. But it is a powerful and inspiring story that I found moving, uplifting and thoroughly enjoyable. I Am Change shines a light on these serious issues and I only hope it helps actually inspire change in the wider world!
Reviewed by Rob