Irina

When I was about 1 or 2 years old, my father would take me on his lap while he was driving and he would let me touch the wheel.  I liked the feeling of driving so much that when my feet could finally touch the pedals, he let me drive by myself. I was one of the first girls in my community that could drive. Now, there are only about 20 girls that know how to drive here. One day, our relatives from my dad side told us that it was not okay for a girl to drive, that her place is not to sit behind the wheel, she should be preparing for marriage and learning how to do housework. This is still how a lot of people think in my community. My dad answered: “that’s no one else’s business, and I want my daughter to grow up to be a strong and independent woman”. My father never imposed any restrictions on the things I was allowed to do. He would only warn me: “if you do this, this is what could happen”, but he would let me experience things on my own. Sometimes things turned out well, and sometimes they didn’t. But that’s how I learned what I was capable of and what I wasn’t, what is a good idea and what isn’t. For example, I wore short skirts and tight tops for some time because I wanted the experience, but after a while it made me felt uncomfortable so I stopped. I never asked him permission to go anywhere, I would simply say “I am going” and that was enough for him. The main thing is that my parents trusted me. That was very important to me because I didn’t want to disappoint them. I didn’t want my actions to reflect badly on them and make them feel ashamed in any way. I think this is the main reason why I always was so responsible. You won’t find this situation in many families living the region. In most cases, fathers don’t let their daughters do what they want and they keep them at home. Growing up, I felt like a “white raven” as opposed to being a black sheep.