Women Empowerment – What does it really mean?
Women are an integral part of the family and the basic pillar of society. Biologically and traditionally, the role of caregiver is associated with women. She has been forced to dedicate her life to the family. There is no doubt that taking care of family and raising kids is definitely one of the most satisfying feelings one can have, but having a career is equally satisfying for ambitious women like me. But mostly, women are torn between career and family. Motherhood itself is a 24/7 job, and taking on an additional 8 to 9 hours job only makes life even more difficult. Juggling between roles and responsibilities is exhausting.
I remember, while I was working a full-time office job, I used to leave my son to the daycare. I used to visit daycare several times a day to nurse him. It was challenging and tiring. Deep down, I wished to quit my job and spend more time with my son. As you may have heard, that be careful what you wish for. My wish was granted, and I had to move to Saudi Arabia. I quit my job and dedicated my life to my kids and family. But soon, it had taken a toll on me. I found myself doing the same thankless job, again and again. I felt I was stuck in the same cycle of cooking, cleaning, changing diapers, sleep and repeat. It is seen to be a thankless job without any tangible rewards. I started missing my job. I got into severe depression. I used to feel that I have lost myself.
Then I found the book by Sheryl Sandberg, which made me realize that I am not alone. The struggles are not the only mine. Every woman has to go through the same phase. At a certain phase of life, they have to choose between career and family. Sandberg dedicated three chapters to her struggles to maintain the balance between work and family life. She shared her struggles about managing the balance between motherhood and her career. She pointed out that it is still Men’s world, and it is double the work that women have to make their way to reach leadership positions. Sadly, it has not changed till now. According to the current McKinsey survey (2020), the pandemic has negatively impacted women in the workplace. The pandemic has intensified the challenges for women even more. Working mothers already have “double shift” but due to the enormous challenge at work and home caused by pandemic, women are likely to feel more pressure and burn out and opting to move out from career. Similarly, women at senior level facing more pressure and at the verge of leaving their career.
Sandberg also discussed the internal block of women and the perception of a successful woman in society. The media might well praise successful women, but in general, women at the higher position are not well-liked. Our society still promotes and likes submissive and dependent women. Such perception holds women to aspire for higher positions.
That book gave me new energy and motivation to overcome my obstacles. The main lesson I learned over the years is that women's empowerment is not about just gaining economic independence or proving herself at any particular job. It is about being in a position in a family, society or at the workplace to create an impact. It is about assuming Self-leadership and not associating your self-worth with any position or job title. As Rumi said, “Woman is a radiance of God, she is not a creature, she is the creator.”