Silent screams, unshed tears, unfulfilled dreams – Woman!
We were born and nurtured to take care of everyone – from our parents to our siblings and our future husbands and their families; our in-laws - these are our divine responsibilities.
They say our place is in the kitchen, crouched beside our mother, for we will get married someday and we must learn how to put the right amount of salt, magi and pepper in the food, lest we bring reproach to our mother.
We can learn all we need to learn about education from school but never at home; at home we learn how to cook; how to serve, humility and subservience - but never our homework or complex algebra formulas or how to play sports because these are reserved for our brothers, they are the ones who would carry on the family name. Besides, no man would marry a woman who is too intelligent or assertive, play dumb, you mustn't voice your opinion in public, be an ‘ideal’ wife figure says mother.
We watch our mothers being beaten and battered but she never cries, we see her burdened with so much grief and responsibilities but she never complains, she spends all day at the farm or at her petty business, she often has to walk long distance home, there may be no husband waiting to dote on her at home; he is probably out with his friends. She bathes the children, cooks for them, wait for her husband to return, serve his food, do the dishes and put out the light before going to bed.
She wakes up before the first cock crows, even on her sick days; it is a taboo to oversleep. My Mother is a Superwoman! Aren't all women?
We were nurtured to accept that as women, we must find pleasure in being unhappy in our marriages; our personal lives and our careers - after all our mothers went through similar situations and they withstood them stoically, they stood by their sometimes very abusive husbands. They tell us: a woman who can smile through the pain is A REAL WOMAN, a woman who takes the “till death do us path” vows seriously is A REAL WOMAN. Sadly, death has parted most marriages – death resulting from domestic violence. The man moves on – he finds a new wife.
As we grow in self realization, we make friends in real life or over the web. We may begin to think differently. Why can’t we take time off work; go somewhere with our girl friends, visit nice places, explore nature? Why can’t we dedicate our lives to a cause we passionately believe in? What if we begin seeking a mate who would assist us with house chores and refuse to settle for anyone less? For most of us, that is when problems begin because we are perceived as westernized rebels – walking against the crowd, setting bad examples for younger girls. This often engenders gender-based violence.
An empowered woman is one who has reached a balance in her personal, family and professional life. She is one who knows when to stop, take a break, reappraise her circumstances and make decisions best for her. Save yourself before you save others – just like flight crews advise us to put on our oxygen mask before we help others. Save yourself! Woman!
I am still a victim of these stereotypes and bylaws and customs. I am finding my path in uncharted waters, making my way slowly. My voice is getting stronger too – my resolve unwavering. No storm can shake my inmost calm.
In this moment I am whole. I celebrate being a woman and a winner. I am basking in the euphoria of being a Victor. I AM. A VICTORIOUS WOMAN!
Future women, I see you growing up; no. I see you being raised as I was, I see you already fear doing certain things because you have been told they are not for you. Have they told you that you cannot be an engineer, a naval officer or an astronaut? Have they told you to settle for more ‘feminine’ professions? If they haven’t, they will; soon. What if I told you that you can do anything, be anything and achieve everything you wish for?
You can and you will. My dear friends, read, dream, think great thoughts, work hard, hold my hand, I won’t let you go. Let me help you for I know only too well how difficult I had it growing up.
Future women, you are stronger than you are given credit for.
Future women, you cannot afford to give in to repressive thoughts.
Woman! You are the future. You must guard it, protect it, and nurture it. When tomorrow comes, we won’t be unsung Sheros.