To get kids’ perspectives, National Geographic fanned out into 80 homes over four continents. From the slums of Rio de Janeiro to the high-rises of Beijing, it posed the same questions to a diverse cast of nine-year-olds.The answers were astute and revealing. Being nine, they didn’t mince their words. Living less than a decade, children are already well aware of their capabilities, but also of the limitations imposed by their origin and gender.
Lokamu Lopulmoe from a Kenyan village near Lake Turkana says that when she grows up, her parents will “be given my dowry, and even if the man goes and beats me up eventually, my parents will have the dowry to console them.” Some 500 kilometres away, in a gated community in Nairobi, Chanelle Wangari Mwangi sits in her trophy-filled room and imagines a much different future: she wants to be a pro golfer and “help the needy.”
In Canada, William Kay from Ottawa sees himself as a banker or “computer genius” in a dozen or so years. Sunny Bhope, whose mother cooks rice over a charcoal fire is preparing rice in their small house near Mumbai, India, hopes he won’t be expected to join in “Eve-teasing,” his society’s euphemism for sexually harassing women in public when he grows up.
A Beijing resident, Yunshu, dreams of becoming a policewoman in the future. “But in this job most of them are men, so I probably won’t,” she adds. In the small town of Selinsgrove in Pennsylvania, the budding journalist Hilde Lysiak rides her neighbourhood on a silver and pink bicycle hunting for news – all the while suspecting that a boy reporter might get more information from the police.