“You sit, let him see who is at the door.”
“Be back before the sunset.”
“It’s okay if you flunk, you anyway have your proposals coming.”
“Why do you need to work when your husband is earning well.”
“your husband is your priority now”
Something familiar? For the past couple of years, I have been honoured to deliver motivational talks to young professionals, students and other professional forums addressing various aspects which contribute to hampering their professional growth – in particular the women.
I have realised that the numbers among female students are healthy, the percentage of women in the workforce too, isn’t a debate anymore. However, the circle starts to get shrink as the ladder ascends. While I interact with these young women who possess the basic eligibility to succeed and grow in their profession but somewhere the sequence gets disturbed. Interestingly it is not the men to be blamed but the fear, lack of confidence, the society, the mindset and above all how they have been programmed to think and function – submissive, shy, soft spoken and the list goes on. Often they would approach me and often the problems are coming from family or social setup but worse is that they have already given up or the ability to find alternative ways to find solutions and make their ways through is yet to be enabled. What comes next? A saviour and an easy escape, a plan B that’s called marriage. As a result, in most cases, the profession gets sidelined in the wake of the comfort zone, spouse approval or reservations, family expectations and the motherhood. However, the stressing point remains that those women who make it there never came from an ideal situation too but the fire in the belly, the determination towards their profession, problem solving attitude have enabled them to overcome all stages without compromising on their profession. Beauty is that they are no less a mother, a companion, a daughter in law and last a leader.
I was taught a rule in my early economics that an accident always carries a sequence of smaller incidents that together results in an accident or a situation. After working for fifteen years I have realised that in order to fix the problem we need to go back to all those little things we have been doing the wrong way.
From the stories in our local textbook boards that pre-define the role of a woman in a limited context to all the childhood moments where we had reminded her to be conscious than to be resilient in the face of fear, every time we made her conscious, every time we imposed something on her, we unconsciously took away a chunk of her confidence bit by bit.
I wish we unlearn and relearn on this subject as we are still taught A for Apple, B for ball, C for Cat and D for Dog. If we were taught A for Ambition, B for Bold, C for Courage and D for Dreams, our minds would have started to identify and pick on these lines unconsciously because Apple, Ball and Carrot are anyway the objects we either consume or encounter no sooner we enter into this world.
While interacting with high achievers, well versed, well exposed, I learnt that perhaps I’m late in imparting my motivation, perhaps this motivation should have been inculcated while their personalities were being developed.
We often debate on women empowerment, glass ceiling, challenges, social pressures, biological differences and limitations etc. but before that, the touch points are often ignored. The little changes that we can make right from the elementary level which will result in a different product altogether. When we grow up, we often quote and refer to the advice our parents had once told us that we unconsciously absorb, inherit and later consciously pass it on to our next generation.
On this women’s day, the year 2020 requires more women in the workforce. More women to be in the leading positions, more women in new roles and most importantly, a new approach in upbringing the younger girls for the world to be able to reach its desired result.
In this VUCA times, professionals are expected to be mad enough and crazy enough to be able to change the world and make a difference, however, the new generation is still programmed to the conventional learning system. For women to be an equal participant, it is about time, we need a new strategy right from childhood. It is about time we need to emphasis on building personality traits, empowering the ability to make decisions, encouraging to dream, re-orient their roles beyond marriage and sacrifice.
To all the aspiring women, your life is a result of the decisions and choices you make – make sure your decisions are your own decision.
In the end, it’s not that I have not had challenges of every vertical; social, financial, marital but working around them gets you there. Once you are there, those who objected or disbelieved, turnaround the same way your life does.
Maryam Baqir heads The Publicist, a corporate communications and PR firm. She is actively involved in different social activities related to youth development, financial literacy and Women on Boards initiatives. She can be reached on [email protected]