It’s International Women’s Day and I can’t help but pay more notice to it this year than I have in any previous years. Now that I’m older, working and have started getting a glimpse of what the real world is really like, I begin to understand the importance of being a woman to me. Perhaps that’s because I’m actually becoming one.
Throughout my school years, I felt as though women’s issues were highlighted so much and that regardless of what anyone says women can and can’t do, I will achieve and do whatever I please. I still have that attitude but now I realise the actual struggles that come with wanting to achieve whatever you want as a woman – especially as a Pakistani woman.
In my household, my mother was always the one to make sure we understood that no matter what happened in our lives, once we finally left home and moved out, we would have to be able to stand on our own two feet – with or without a man. She would always say that you don’t want a man to think that he can treat you anyhow because you depend on him and him knowing that you’ll stay with him no matter what. She wanted us to be independent and successful so that we weren’t ever put in that position or taken advantage of in that way. She was very much for projecting the attitude of “I don’t need a man in my life to survive but having one can’t hurt”. My dad was the one who would have to be persuaded into letting us do things and mum would have to convince him with the opening line of “just because they’re girls doesn’t mean…”
It’s completely different now though. My dad encourages me to be my own woman more than my mum does. I think he accepts that I won’t take no for an answer – even when that no comes from him. My sisters and I had to convince him over the years that our routes to success won’t be the same and they won’t be easy but we’re going to become successful women before we go out there and look to get married and have children. He understands now. He gets that we’re opinionated women with strong personalities that won’t let our race, gender or faith get in the way of what we want to achieve.
I can’t help but think of how many women don’t come from such understanding families or are forced into certain career paths or even forced into marriage. Every single second of every single day there are women fighting for the rights that I take for granted. There are so many campaigns and movements I overlook simply because I’m not going through what they’re campaigning about and I need to do better. As just another woman trying to make something of myself in this world, I need to do so much better.
Firstly, I need to support the women that I’m surrounded by each and every day; whether that’s my little sister or a work colleague and whether it’s do with a project they’re working on or just stuff they’re going through, I need to lend that support. Secondly, I must not overlook the work done by people who are campaigning for things that affect women across the world just because it doesn’t apply to me. Thirdly, I need to support the female entrepreneurs I know of, whether its personally or not. Gotta big up the women doing their thing and make sure I either use their companies or at least spread the word about them. I must make sure I do this increasingly so for us women who are of ethnic minorities. And last but not least, I need to make sure all the mums around me are told how great they’re doing – including my own. Whether I like her or not.
Us women are capable of doing such wonderful and inspiring things and we do. But together we are definitely a stronger force and will be able to achieve so much more. The positive comments from another woman about something I’ve worked on means so much. It’s not about approval, it’s about being there for each other. I’m going to try and be politer to my fellow ladies and I hope I get the same back. But if not… “if a girl have beef with me, she gon’ have beef with me… forever.”
I ain’t a mug init. Safe.
“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” – Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
Do you feel you do enough for yourself as a woman or for the women around you? Are you thinking about making changes? I’d like to hear your thoughts! You can comment below, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @_HUMAIRAASLAM
Note: This is my 20th post! I know – who would’ve thought that I even had 20 things to write about. I initially started off this little website to practice my fiction writing but it’s become so much more for me. It helps me to write down my feelings because I can’t speak to people about them as its something that I really struggle with. It’s also helped me realise that I can follow something through and complete it. I was so shy about showing other people my writing and now I write with such confidence and show off! I hope this journey just keeps getting better and more fulfilling. Thank you to everyone who reads, gives me feedback, retweets and supports what I’m doing. You are the individuals who have motivated me to continue this. I love you guys.