The fourth entrant in our Top 100 Most Passionate Person on the Planet competition, Dame Judith Parker.
PASSION: Education of Girls and Women Worldwide
My passion is the education of girls and women so they can reach their full potential and live happy and fulfilling lives. I live my passion by continually encouraging women to educate themselves, to grasp opportunities and believe in themselves. I explore and develop ways girls and women can gain education.
2. How did you work out what your passion is?
I saw my parents suffer through their lack of education, particularly my mother who had little education. I realised when I was a teenager how much better her life would have been had she had an education. She gave me the advantage of an excellent education and I wanted to repay some of her sacrifice by making the world a better place for other women.
3. What choices have you made to embrace and pursue your passion in your life and what sacrifice has this required?
I chose to extend my education by completing two uni degrees at night while working full time and bringing up two teenage children. This meant I had to be a good time manager and sacrifice many fun things I would have done. I chose to devote a lot of my income to programs which would enable women to gain an education such as building water tanks at the top of the Kadoka track in PNG to enable women and young girls to go back to school instead of carting water. I have worked on 34 overeas programs as a volunteer which have ensured women and girls have the right and opportunity to have an education. My sacrifice has been time and money. In reality, who needs a new dress when a small amount of money sent to India can change the lives of many. At present I volunteer as a home tutor to refugee children to enhance their education.
4. What has been the outcome of making these choices, both positive and negative?
The outcome has been a great deal of satisfaction. To see these girls and women grow in confidence and use new skills, gives me great satisfaction. One of the negatives is that you can only help a few. However I believe in the ripple effect. The girls educated today will educate others tomorrow.
Another negative is that the task is never finished, there is always someone else needing help, another injustice, another brick wall in front of one. The positives are the achievements. An example is that I ran a program where I had the help of women all over the world. I took young prostitutes off the streets in Motherwell, South Africa and sent them back to school. They were prostitutes to gain money for food for their siblings as all the adults in the family had died of HIV AIDS [a huge problem in South Africa]. One of the first aged 13 when I took her off the street gained entry to the Nelson Mandela University last year. If I do nothing else in my life I am satisfied I have given that young woman a chance in life. I have repaid some of my mother’s sacrifice to give me an education.
If her words do not inspire you enough, then I invite you to read Dame Judith Parker’s story in our next issue of Golden Pen Magazine. The things that this woman has achieved in her lifetime are nothing short of amazing and I stand in awe of her wisdom and grace.