SHE'S TOO FAT! SHE'S TOO NICE! SHE'S NOT PRETTY ENOUGH! SHE WORKS TOO MUCH! SHE NEEDS TO SETTLE DOWN! SHE'S TOO INSECURE! SHE'S TOO HARSH! SHE'S FUSSY! SHE'S NAIVE! SHE'S ATTENTION-SEEKING! SHE'S NOT SMART ENOUGH!
It's almost like a woman can never really win in this modern day. We are judged regardless of what we do.
I have been totally astonished by the events celebrating International Women's Day and Women's History Month- a month set aside to celebrate the social, cultural, political, and economic achievements of women and to lobby for gender parity. It is really an incredible sight to see women being honoured and celebrated for their works in various spheres of life. Do you ever think about how hard women have to fight to be celebrated? Or how many glass ceilings have to be broken for women to be recognised? But you know what? We are smashing all the pieces of glass anyway! It is really an amazing time to be a woman. I am not oblivous of the everyday challenges women face but in this era, we have opportunities that our foremothers only dreamed of. Women can vote in many parts of the world. In many places, women have access to education and professional jobs. A woman is now the Vice President of the United States. Who would have thought? Many decades ago, this was probably just wishful thinking. Another woman has just been sworn in as President of Tanzania. Just this same month, an African woman took over as the first Director-General of the World Trade Organisation. Remarkable! Still, there are a lot of battles to be fought until we achieve gender equity and equality. However, these wins, no matter how small, show progress.
Being a woman in these modern times is really hard. And confusing too. What should an 'ideal' woman look like? Does she even exist? Social media asks for perfection in basically everything- physical appearance, careers, families- everything. While teachers, and some parents want nothing less than academic excellence. And at the same time, tradition has it that we must be married, care for our husbands, and raise the kids. The standards and expectations set for 'womanhood' are sometimes impossible to reach, not to talk of the fact that our opinions and desires for all of these things count for very little. We are expected to find a balance between all of this. Crazy isn't it?
Successful but unmarried women are labelled as aggressive or unsubmissive or 'career women'. Many times, when people say 'career women', you almost always know what follows. You know who says 'career man?' Right, no one! Housewives and dedicated mothers are sometimes termed lazy or unproductive or not pushful or unfulfilled. But some women manage to do all of these things and are still criticized. It leaves many feeling that they can never be good enough. No wonder many women struggle with Imposter Syndrome.
Women are still rising above all of this stereotyping. We are constantly evolving and stepping out of the typical historical roles given to us. We are doctors, engineers, pilots, astronauts, scientists, fitness trainers, entrepreneurs, and everything else there is to be. The modern-day woman is a multitasker- she has several obligations and responsibilities that can sometimes be overwhelming but she rises like the phoenix all the time. We will always remember the women who came before us and held the torch so that we can have the opportunities we have today. We have come far but still have a long way to go.
This is the time to stand up and step up. For me, being a woman today means being a warrior for change. What will we all do after Women's History Month is over? Do we fold our hands and wait till next year and start another challenge? What will we do to make sure our daughters are safe? How do we ensure that we are afforded the same recognition and opportunities as our male counterparts? How do we fight being sexualized or objectified? What do we do when inappropriate comments are made to us? How can we save women and girls from their abusers? Will we continue to be quiet when we are harassed, belittled, or dehumanized? We must help each other and use our voices to create positive change. We will all at one point or another face challenges that target women. We have to be each other's allies and support system. That is how we can change the landscape.
I am grateful to have women who inspire me daily. We need more women's stories. We need to hear and share stories of women who are excelling ad transcending patriarchal systems. Many women are unsung heroes in our everyday stories. These stories should not only be heard on International Women's Day.
It is such an exciting and exhilarating time for women. I would say be who you are without fear of judgment because people will judge you anyway. Live your truth boldly. Be authentic. Be successful in the way you want to be. Fight for what you want with good conscience. Be empowered. Chase those dreams- whatever they may be. There is so much to be achieved by the modern-day woman. There is so much room for growth and progress. Don't be held back by the pressure to conform to society's stereotypes or standards. Every tiny step forward counts as progress towards making the world a better place for other women, children, and men.
21st-century women are not waiting for seats at the table. We are building the tables! One day, there wouldn't be 'women leaders', 'career women', 'female scientists'.... just leaders, professionals, and scientists.
Let's all #ChooseToChallenge. All day. Every day. In all works of life.
“Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.”
What do you think of a modern-day woman? If you are to label her and inspire someone today, how would you describe her? Share this blog post using 'A modern-day woman is.......'
P.S: I need a new version of this t-shirt. It should read 'The present and the future are female.' Women are winning!