I always have this one question wandering in mind whenever I decided to attend a talk - will it be the same ‘cliché’ talk again or will it not? Cliché would have different meanings depending on different people. But, my cliché here specifically mean for, please let it not be anything about early marriage, on how to become the ‘muslimah sejati’, on petty womanly matters for short. Talks that mainly derived from feelings and emotions rather than focussing on answering and discussing the main issues – that is cliché.
It’s not that I don’t have any feelings or emotions. Instead, I am writing based on emotions today. It’s just that, I am not willing sacrificing my time, my money and my attentions just to hear you talking on and on about your feelings and how big you feels it is.
That’s why I am very selective on deciding which talk to attend. Note: when I mention talk, it’s not the mosque-lecture kind of talk.
It was intriguing when at the end of the talk, the survey form was asking me about my thoughts on ‘Women Empowerment’? I know that they would have meant to say what I thought about the talk as a whole. But I don’t interpret it that way at the first place. I thought they asked me to define the term when I first heard it.
Obviously I am a woman. At least, that’s how I view myself. But truthfully, there’s time that I hate woman and hating myself for being born woman. Shocking? I don’t literally hate ‘woman’, it’s an implicit statement by the way.
I just hate the way woman treated themselves. And the way they let others treats them.
Compared with my friends, I am relatively small (in size) and short too. Sometimes, it was really hard being small. I was so used with being pushed around in a crowded place, so used for my vision to be blocked in classroom, so used with feeling insecure and anxious when walking in public. But, as time goes, I begin to realise that I had always need to confront with things larger than me. And all those tormenting years are actually a very precious practices and teachers for me.
I still am small, unfortunately. But something that had grown large for the past years are what was beneath. Make your weakness an advantage against your opponent.
I know it’s impossible to expect for everybody to tough up. Each and every one of us are surely will be different in personalities, values, and attitudes, though it’s something frustrating to confront every day with still, it’s kind of beautiful. Everyone is a book that you need to spare some time to review and read, surely not just by their mere cover.
Zainab Al-ghazali, Isabella; know these two figures and know how real their fights were. Only then you will see that yours are nothing compared to them. Not even close. So, what is women empowerment meant again to me?
One of the speakers raises an issue that put a grin in my face. Spot on! Totally not cliché.
“The only reasons why I came today all the way from home was because I’m worried. I’m worried that whenever I conducted interviews, the majority of them are not local graduated and only small majority from them are women. Believe me, this will get worse if you don’t do anything about it.”
I have many friends that do not know what they are going to be or do in the next future. I also have some friends that content with just enough and reluctant to pursue more. If you want to talk about the world and how its work, it’s true that it’s very difficult for women to compete among men especially in working environment. Because of that, women tend to choose a path that hardly men go for; teaching, counselling, accounting, financing, nursing, etc. And on critical occupation that majorities are men, it’s hard for women to climb the upper ladder of the corporation.
What are the problems? Where did things went wrong? I will not raising any issues of equalities and let the feminist chanting their song of inequality world. The blame is not on inequalities. It’s lacks of awareness.
‘Women need to be educated!’, we constantly raise the argument. How? For what cause? To what extent? On what? What are the benefits?
Just asks yourselves: How much would you really value?
Let’s use an economics model here. When you’re trying to enter the market, first you have to get through the barriers. Can you breakthrough it? If yes, evaluate the market. Who are your customers, competitors, stakeholders, investors? What are your strategies; price, place, product, promotion? How do you sustain your company in long term? How do you growth? How to globalise? Evaluate the economics. Deprresion? Inflation? How to overcome?
If you can answer them all, try putting yourself in the situations. In this world, they are so many challenges that you will go through. You have to identify them and try to make a way out of it. You don’t necessarily have to do it all alone. Friends, family, relatives, teachers, cliques, you have them. They’ll be either you support system or your rivals, either way both are important in your life to keep you moving. And made plans. Equipped yourself with knowledge, skill, values that could help you in the future. And when things went wrong somehow somewhere, they will always be a way out.
The most important thing is, don’t just stop when they’re enough. Don’t settle down when things had become comfortable. Vission more. Be someone whose refuse to live life just as it is.
SHARIFAH SARAH, VICE PRESIDENT MAYBANK ISLAMIC & RISK MANAGEMENT DEPARTMENT.
She is beyond remarkable. I envy her. Not for the tittle or rank that she had achieve. But, for her values, her principles and her minds. Her words are like thorns biting every inch of my heart. She could give you the chills and force you to swallow the painful truth upfront.
“If you want to give birth to a child who is successful, you must first be successful. You must first make yourself worthy for them. I was just recovered from an eye infection and my son asked me, what am I doing home and not working? Because they know that their mother belongs to the society. My husband is a surgeon. And they know that whenever their father is not home, he is out there saving other kids life.
Don’t limit yourself to yourself. Contribute to the society.”
I looked her in the eyes and wonder the pain that she had gone through to be at where she was now. And at that time, it suffocating to contain myself from asking, ‘Is it worth it?’. Some reasons people unwilling to be that successful because they know the return that they are going to pay in returns. And it’s already feels unbearable to just imagining it.
“To be a leader, it’s a very lonely place. You have to have that don’t care attitudes. Just don’t care about what people stereotype to you. I have encounter many situations where people mocking me, talking behind my back. Some even said to me; why are you here, just go home and take care of your kids lah. I had been accused of having relationship with my boss because why else would I be here if not because of that right? It has nothing to do with my abilities at all.”
Now, this is where you should reflect on yourselves. The reasons why people treating women that way is because we are the one that let them believe it was the way how women should be treated. When we never challenge ourselves or do the impossible, we can’t expect people to have high expectations on us. All this while, things that we ever do are achievable by them, that was why it is hard for women to be recognised and acknowledge.
If we want to change stereotypes, change ourselves first then.