Conditioning over generations has led society to believe that women only deserve second, third and fourth best, and sometimes nothing at all.
Even today, this outdated mindset is still prevalent and more magnified within the south Asian community. Despite all the campaigning, activism, and spotlights on the issues, we are still seeing many girls not being able to access educational opportunities. This needs to change, and more discussions need to be had on the subject. Girls should be empowered early on, so they grow up to be strong, independent, and confident women. The mindset of demanding and deserving the very best in life must be instilled in them.
This doesn’t mean a huge house, nice car, a wardrobe full of designer clothes or other material possessions. It means the best girls should expect is an education to equip them to feel empowered enough to take on any challenge, follow their dreams (not anyone else’s) and live their best lives. If that includes material possessions bought with their own money, so be it. They should be taught to be treated with respect and it must become a part of their DNA. That respect should come from friends, family, in the workplace and any future in-laws.
Women should also demand the very best from anyone they date, have a relationship with or marry. We still hear many stories of women being treated like second-class citizens or an unpaid servant to a partner and their family.
More respect should be given to women in the workplace too and not just in equal pay. The fact we are still having discussions about equality in 2022 shows there is a long way to go.
Although men have a lot of work to do when it comes to women’s rights, women can also empower themselves by expecting the best for themselves and other women. This includes sharing expectations and experiences, good and bad, with each other in the hope that someone will be inspired or empowered in some way.
The concept of lifting one another up can be reshaped; friends, sisters, mothers, and daughters can challenge each other to expect the best and pass that on to future generations.
Women should be brave enough to have high expectations, even if they have been conditioned not to, whether it’s work, family or relationships. If their feelings, hard work or general all-round awesomeness is not appreciated, women should have the courage to call it out or, if needed, walk away. Women shouldn’t feel bad about earning more than their partner and wanting the finer things in life. Whether it is the Louboutin heels, Chanel handbag or that designer lipstick, they deserve it. Dress, think and act with confidence, like the queen you are.
If you are a girl or a young lady, remember, the future belongs to you. It will be filled with challenges, but that shouldn’t stop you from having high hopes and demanding the best. Those expectations may not always be met and there will be disappointments, but they will keep you on an upward trajectory towards the stars, where you rightfully belong.
Fozia Uddin is full time employed (to pay the bills), part time dreamer (to escape life’s monotony). She loves life, laughter, adventures and, of course, has great expectations. Her favourite quote is by Rumi, which is, “wherever you are, and whatever you do, be in love.”