Life of a girl: ‘My first day at school’

Women and girls from some of the world’s least developed countries are sharing their experiences of significant life milestones — from their first day in school, to their first period and job. The stories were collected by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and UN Women.


Minazi Village, Rwanda

“I started school at an older age compared to others due to lack of school materials and fees,” Keza Chantal, 9, from Minazi Village in Rwanda’s Northern Province said. Keza, who will be entering fourth-grade in the 2018 academic year, is one of seven children. Her father works in construction and her mother is a housewife.

“The new uniform that my parents afforded to buy for me was an exciting thing. I always heard my elder sister joking around that my uniform is very long that I will wear it for many years. I guess my parents couldn’t afford buying new pairs regularly for all of us at home but I just loved it!”

Keza described her first day of school as a “relief.”

“I went to bed dreaming of the adventures that would take place the next morning. It was very early morning when my mum and I started the journey to school. I don’t remember how long we walked but I was excited to leave home as it was a relief from heavy work, including fetching water,” Keza said.

“When we reached school, my mother talked to the teacher but I didn’t pay much attention to their conversation. I guess it was about school fees and materials that they couldn’t pay at the beginning as they had many children to look after back home. She handed me to the teacher. I watched my mother’s back until she disappeared.”

When it comes to equality between men and women, Rwanda, one of world’s least developed countries, was ranked as the fourth-best globally by the World Economic Forum in 2017. The country has made big strides in promoting gender equality, promoted by the government. And this has shown in its educational representation. In Rwanda, 95% of boys and 97% of girls enroll in primary school.

— Keza told her story to UNFPA.