"We live in a society where women are assumed to prioritize motherhood above everything else, even in the most developed country."


  • #ChooseToChallenge is the theme of the International women´s day 2021.  I would like to pen down a few thoughts on this theme. 

A year ago, I was a part of the parade organized by Født Fri, which eventually was the last big gathering in the city that I have been part of before Pandemic.

A lot has changed since then, everyone has faced the consequence, and somewhere young girls and women have faced the worst situation. Being forced to move home to parents as young female entrepreneurs had difficulty finding work compared to men.

According to Unesco, at least 91 percent of students across 191 countries have already been affected by school closures. Putting a high rate of girls' education at stake, as parents could not afford their education. In the US itself, the domestic violence rate increased by 8.1%, according to the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice (NCCCJ). 

Today, I want all my sisters reading this to take a moment to celebrate and adorn your bodies the way you choose and be proud of who you are. It is a small journey between life and death. Let us support each other´s choices while we are together on this journey, even if the choices made by your fellow sisters are different from what you would personally choose. Let us not judge the others if they are far behind in this race, rather encourage them as they #choosetochallenge their goals. This year's theme is celebrating women's achievements, raising awareness against bias, and taking action for equality. 

What is it to be a woman in this world, where certain patriarchal rules are still dominated by organized society? Let us not give a blind eye and believe that we are living in this perfect little world. The world looks fine because women are expected to give their best, be ˈprä-pər and not say a word. First of all, society is fundamentally flawed because they presume that women have unmitigated freedom, which doesn't exist in reality. Then they claim to have choices, which are shaped and constrained by the unequal conditions in which we live. This further narrows down to the question, are you privileged with a spectrum of choices? 

I am friends with women who were married at an early age, and I feel they have been robbed of the choice to marry. If she had been given freedom of choice, I believe she would have been the most successful journalist. She had been very determined, opinionated, well knowledgeable, but had no support from her parents. Yet today, after 10 years, she enrolled herself to get a higher education, and I am so proud of her. After years of chasing her ambition, she made it while caring for her child and the family. I want to celebrate her strength to perceive her dreams, and she has set an example to resume at any time. 

I am friends with a woman who hails from a small town who strived to succeed as an IT trainer in a top company in the capital city. Despite her achievements, she battles the stigma of not having a child. For six years now, she has been on medication side effects, distressing emotions, anxiety, sleep interruptions, mood swings breaking her body. One would not notice her pains, the inner turmoil she goes through. Women go through this pressure every time, and society will drop derogatory remarks breaking determination, passion and hinder the ability to lead. I want to celebrate her- the woman who earns more than her better half, she is enough. 

Why am I bringing this up? We live in a society where women are assumed to prioritize motherhood above everything else, even in the most developed country. My former colleague in Norway shared her experience on how her aging parents breathing down her neck for a grandchild, where her brother is never questioned. The fundamentally flawed society where a woman’s personal choices are often considered matters of public discussion and everyone at the table has the right to discuss the choices she makes. I am shedding light on many young girls who have been robbed of life choices, the freedom to choose. 

You might have had the privilege to plan your life and choose when to conceive, but not every woman does. By publicly issuing these assertions, you deny their stories. Yes, it is okay to be a wife if that is what you want. Yes, it is okay to have children if you and your partner can share responsibility equally. Yes, it is okay to enjoy cooking, doing laundry, and organizing the home- I enjoy it as well, and it has never been imposed on me by anyone. What’s not okay is the expectation that one must or must not pursue a life of domesticity based upon their gender, for doing so denigrates freedom of choice.

I encourage you to recognize this issue because it implies that women have still not been recognized as independent agents. This includes all women — not just cisgendered women. If you identify as a woman, you are a woman and deserve the same treatment that cisgender women fight for. Unless you recognize this, society will continue to leverage its notions about you. The person across the table will influence the choices you make. It is not wrong to choose to marry or bear children. The gist is not to forget that you are enough and can determine the life you wish to lead, decide for yourself, and not be viewed as a subordinate being.  

The focus on women’s choices is not about shaming other options, being angry, offending someone´s choices, victim-blaming, and a distraction from the real problems women still face. If you’re not happy with the way things are, don't blame the glass ceiling, misogyny, and sexism, toxic masculinity, mansplaining, entrenched gender roles, infant mortality rate, the pay gap, female genital mutilation, women’s lack of representation on the boards or in parliament, or an epidemic of violence against women. Blame yourself because you are not a feminist.

Everyone should be a feminist. There is a lot to understand and learn when it comes to the intersectionality and gender equality movement. Intersectionality is the idea that you can't separate different layers of oppression, and feminism is about having the choice to aspire to be who you want. A white woman might face sexist oppression and be objectified, while a black woman will experience sexism AND racism. And a trans-black woman will experience sexism and racism, AND transphobia. If you think that you don't have to be feminist because women in your country have the right to vote, have the freedom to wear anything, then it is time to think again.

If you don't have to think about it, you are privileged, but you could always use your privilege to encourage others. Today on International women's day, you can participate in online campaigns to celebrate women's achievements, raise awareness against bias, and take action for equality. Our feminism must be intersectional. It must include the voices and stories of women of color, transgender women, lgbtq+ women, women from different religions and different countries. I believe everyone here is born to shine and one should not be limited or forced to fit in the predetermined mold. Be kind, be brave, choose what makes you happy, make mistakes, learn from them, heal, be proud of your scars, love yourself, support each other, stand united toward the advancement of gender equality.