What it’s like to be a woman: fields to factories

There is a saying by Simone de Beauvoir, “One is not born a woman, but becomes one.” Life’s demands weigh on a woman from the moment they wake up. There is always a need. Being a woman means being powerful and assertive, yet kind at the same time. The journey of compassion and empathy towards those we love without feeling weak and exhausted, offering a piece of us without asking for much in return. It means striving for our goals even in the face of adversity that we may encounter along the way.

Women constantly face the fear of judgment, devaluation and disrespect by society. Some of the lines most often directed at women include: “Don’t be so emotional. Don’t be so bossy. Sit properly. Dress well. You’re trying too hard. You look overdone. Men don’t like girls who try too hard. You took his last name? Don’t go out too much. Don’t go out at night. Don’t trust anyone. Just be a lady.”

Womanhood often feels like a double-edged sword where there is no right way to be a woman. In contrast, these challenges and adversities only fuel the desire to succeed and to show what a woman is highly capable of over time.

When talking about empowering women, it doesn’t mean men should be less empowered. There is often confusion and misunderstanding when it comes to portraying the desires and dreams a woman has. It’s more about pushing those who are talented and skilled in their industries, which motivates not just women in general but anyone with a specific skill set and great knowledge. 

Influence is another aspect of empowering women that leaves an impact. It has the tendency to change the mindset that the majority hold toward women at the workplace. I believe influence should come from a leader that the audience admires. Empowered women and girls contribute to the health and productivity of their families, communities and countries; creating a ripple effect that benefits everyone. Therefore, acknowledging women’s success becomes easy. 

There is a definite need to address wider elements of power imbalances in society and investigate the root causes of gender inequalities. The unequal distribution of unpaid care work is one example of this, and it’s holding back progress. When a woman generates an income, it doesn’t only benefit her; the entire community profits. Thus, as Barack Obama once said, “Empowering women isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do.” Guaranteeing the rights of women and giving them opportunities to reach their full potential is critical not only for attaining gender equality but also for meeting a wider range of international development goals.

Let’s have a walk into the history of industrial exposure in women’s lives. The Industrial Revolution opened discussion on politics, rights, freedom and the economy that changed the dynamics of womanhood today. The traditional roles of women began to change as the impacts of the Agricultural Revolution and the Enclosure Movement forced many small farmers off of their land. This caused women to migrate from rural areas to urban centers in search of work in the newly established factories and mines. As a result, large numbers of women entered the workforce in textile mills and coal mines. Socialist values started emerging as workers began to protest and fight for more equal rights. Centuries of tireless work for equal rights started to slowly come to fruition. The early feminist movements also emerged out of this time period, as women began to organize and protest for more equality in society such as the women’s strike for equity in 1970 by National Organization for Women.

A growing number of women pursued higher education only after World War II. Unfortunately, women weren’t climbing to the tops of their careers due to the persistent sentiment that women belong at home. People couldn’t bear the thought of the presence of a woman in the workplace alongside men. But we have come a long way; in the 21st century, women-dominated careers are a reality, but sadly men still earn higher salaries in these careers. The women-dominated careers include dental hygienists, speech language pathologists, social service managers, human resources managers and special education teachers. There are thousands of jobs in the world, but only a few of them stand out for us. Women  in tech and women in business have a lot to prove and achieve. 

Women are recognizing their unlimited potential but the journey of being a woman is never ending. So, let’s support each other and grow together, as Maya Angelou said, “each time a woman stands up for herself, she stands up for all women.”