Article in brief: the article focuses on how women empowerment begins with young girls and the ones who raise them, as opposed to creating platforms to empower them later on in their lives.
“Habibty … you need to do well in school so you can get into a great university and after you graduate, we’ll find you a suitable husband.
As I sat listening to a conversation between a mother to her daughter … I wondered how many of these happen across the country, around the world? It reminded me of the movie “Mona Lisa Smile” where Julia Roberts was stuck between two worlds, and where women would pursue higher education only so that they are smart, but wind up being housewives.
These women were WOW-man (a deviation from woman) because they were already intelligent and in pursuit of WOWness in their lives, regardless of what they wound up doing after university.
Now, there isn’t anything wrong with being a housewife. It’s the hardest job in the world. The point here is that our mothers and other women in general put a stop to a girls’ dream and her life choices, for her to be someone’s wife and that’s it.
When was the last time we heard a mother tell her daughter, her dream for her is to be a board member of a multibillion dollar company or to run for parliament? Our boys are encouraged to take up any position they want. Both sexes are encouraged to settle down and have children but as a girl or a woman, we are always reminded of our role in society, the workplace will come second no matter what.
As we celebrate international women’s day, I am shocked that each year we develop more conferences, workshops, and panels to discuss the role of women in society. We are the ones always segregating women and girls from their counterparts, and having specific roles just for them, or specialized courses or conferences just for girls and women, when what we need to do is think and implement integration. The conferences would not exist in such numbers if support for girls and women started at home.
Why does it need a discussion? Why do women and young girls still have problems? Why do we assume all girls want to sit at home? Will these conferences help change perceptions? Perceptions, my dear readers, begin at home. They don’t change because a noteworthy professor spoke in a panel or because five workshops were held to tell each woman’s success story. Even if these notable speakers have brought about change, the glass ceiling is still there for women. If you take the time to note statistics on women in the workplace, there is still male domination in boardrooms, holding CXO positions and more.
The other side to it is society and the systems, they already have preconceived and predefined roles and responsibilities for women, which are the accepted norms and that a woman’s place is to work for a few years and then settle. The government and businesses need to support the roles of women in the workplace too because currently, maternity leaves are short, women get promoted less compared to men, and there is a lack of senior leadership roles held by women. When I was pregnant (both times), I couldn’t count the number of times I was reminded that I will be off for a few months soon, as if I disrupted the society or my workplace by choosing to have a child. People put you off wanting to come back to work. But if the entire system supported women who will grow into future CEOs and Ministers, we wouldn’t have this issue to begin with.
I celebrate my womanhood – because my family has given me the choices. I choose to work and I choose to study and I choose to be a wife and a mother. I also choose what works best for me first because my happiness comes first before I can fulfill or make anyone else happy.
The choice needs to be the girls’ or the women’s. Mothers should always make that choice available. It should start with the upbringing. So what if your daughter chooses to build LEGO blocks instead of combing her dolls’ hair? This could mean that she is a future engineer.
Let’s start thinking WOW-man and not Woman as we move forward, that’s the only way things can and will change.
Aida has more than a decade experience in the communications, and mastering ceremonies field, she worked in private and public sectors, and now heads the Stakeholder Communications in Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing in Dubai. Aida was a columnist in few of the local newspapers, a TV co-host of a community talk show, and cofounded with friends a community platform: “Promise Of A Generation”.
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