For those that remember will remember that we always have special ladies to welcome a new month! Last month, we had the programme ‘July with Eid Celebrations’ and I cannot fail to appreciate the efforts of all the ladies that have tried their best to feed my readers with the right kind of information. Well, well, it gets better by the day, right?
This month, I have with me 5 ladies that have been the figures of success in Mombasa County. You guys remember Ahlam, right? You should, she was the one I hosted in one of the Creative non-fiction stories ‘Words of Thought from the Best Student in Mombasa County’
SK: My beautiful beauties, please start by quickly introducing yourselves, you can also say a word or two.
Hanan: My name is Hanan Barre. I’m 17 and going to college this year In Shaa Allah. I think what would describe me best would be ‘ambitious’. I’ve always wanted the best and to be nothing less than that. It may come off as incredibly arrogant but I believe that there’s nothing stopping me from getting what I want once I set my mind to it. I believe that a society which empowers women and celebrates their accomplishments is more likely to move forward than a more misogynistic one which constricts what a woman can achieve.
Nuria: My name is Nuria Hassan, I am 19 years old, for those who know me best I usually go by Noora (trust me there’s a story behind that 😂). I’m starting University this September In Shaa Allah. I have always wanted to raise the bar on anything that I do in life, that may make me come off as aggressive but nothing worth living comes easy. I have constantly surrounded myself with positive people in my life and I’m grateful for the group of friends I have who always keep me on my toes with some healthy competition.
Nassra: I am Nassra Abdalla. Born and bred in the delightful little island of Mombasa but the pursuit of education has me currently residing in the Queen City of North Carolina (Charlotte). Coming from a large family of well-educated people despite being of limited means, I have had to work hard and show my gratitude by being a stellar performer thus a successful woman one day. After all, educating a child is a worthy investment. Excelling in the national exams was just the beginning, watch out for my roar!
Naseem: My name is Nasim Abdallah. I am 19 years old. I am starting university in September pursuing law In Shaa Allah. I believe anyone can do anything, you just have to love what you do and put all your mind and heart in it. The inner me says that am competitive (haha) in the sense that defeat totally tears me apart. I love working with groups of serious people since I really appreciate the output of teamwork; it’s either you learn something from other members or you emerge successful.
Ahlam: It’s the Niqaby Queen. I feel honored and blessed to be appearing in the blog once again.
No much of an introduction is needed I believe. 🙂
SK: Great. I see these are young but ambitious minds. Well, our topic today is women Empowerment. Do you believe that women can be empowered only through books?
Hanan: Let me answer that question first, lol. Of course women can be empowered through books. But books alone cannot achieve much. I think we need to make our societies see that an educated woman is not a threat but rather an asset to be used to move forward. Used in the sense that, they should embrace the culture of a woman coming in to the whole decision making process , coming in to the whole rule making process and even the government of the society. A woman’s instinct coupled with worldly knowledge and life experience is a major plus in the development of a society. Once the society believes that, then the woman can really be empowered through books. A society that pushes for female education is one that has recognized a woman’s true potential.
Nuria: I second you, Hanan. I may also add that having a good support system be it friends or family could empower you more than books will ever do. You could be the most educated person in the room and still not be empowered or liberated because of the lack of support system to help you achieve your dreams. Having women who are striving for the same goals as you, surrounding you and affirming your worth and dreams creates leaders, business women, and presidents. You are as strong and empowered by the people around you.
Nassra: Mind you, knowledge Is power although it takes an already secured and determined woman to rise with the power they absorb from education. Different women are empowered by different things, I for one (not to sound arrogant) but I am a gifted learner with a sharp brain and a wise tongue but my empowerment comes not from the mountains of books I read, or the endless praises I am blessed to bask in but the belief in my own inner power and the certainty that it is there not to benefit me but something bigger than just us, it is there to be the voice of humanity. That is what empowers me.
Naseem: .Books are fine but let’s come to reality. Multiple sections exist where women can be empowered. At the end of the day it’s not only white collar jobs that women need to define their path. Social aspects such as family and its responsibilities and traditions as well and yes, not only formal education but farming and basketry with as much support can empower women.
Ahlam: I agree with my colleagues! Books alone can’t achieve much for I believe that we all have the power to pursue what drives us. It all starts with having the idea or thought, then bringing it into existence. Being empowered means to choose being your best and most authentic self to fulfil your goals and dreams. Believe you can achieve it, and then have the resources and support to create it.
SK: Hmm…I like! What are you feeling, my dearest fans? Goosebumps on? haha. Let’s proceed. Living in cultures that are completely male-chauvinist, how is a lady able to balance herself, and have it all? Career and family?
Hanan: Honestly I couldn’t claim to have truly experienced a male chauvinistic atmosphere and the prejudice that comes with it. But I think the best way to overcome that kind of prejudice is to embrace it. Embrace it in the sense that , yes it’s there and yes I’m always going to be subject to scrutiny and judgement first because of it, but I’m not going to let it define me and hinder me from getting to the level I want. A woman can totally multitask and be that successful leader in her field and still be the badass mom and wife and daughter or whatever. It all lies in the attitude we have towards that prejudice.
Nuria: I ask myself on a daily basis, “Why is that a gender-specific question?” why is this question thrown specifically at women? I’ve never seen men in power asked this question. Are they not fathers? Do they not have families? This kind of question is used to discredit women who work, who desire to have a career, whose sole identity is not tied to being a stay home mother. It is a question that is used to make women doubt the path they have chosen, to make them think that if they are not at home, they are bad mothers. But how are daughters supposed to be empowered when they can’t look to their aunts, mothers as role models? Women can balance work and family the same way men do. They rely on support systems like everyone else to balance work and family.
Nassra: Proud as I am to be from the culture I was born into, I must say it is a shame and quite a disappointment that the stereotypes are what define us, what we live by. “A woman’s place is in the kitchen” it is believed and unfortunately followed. A woman should not be judged by her gender but the strength of her character. I believe a woman who is man enough (pun intended) to stand up and fight for her rights is the ideal role model for young girls searching for inspiration. If a man can have a job, have kids and lead a life where he uses his voice as power, so can a woman, only if she believes it and demands it. A career and a family shouldn’t have to be options, prioritizing may be necessary, but it’s all worth it in the end. c’est la vie.
Naseem: Well, well! If a lady can multitask in her own house with as many kids as she can have why do we have to subject her to negative thoughts about her ability to work outside her house just like a man? Don’t ask if she is able; just ask the trick she uses, haha!
Ahlam: A woman can have it all, as long as she starts early and plans accordingly. Preparation and joint decision – making are key to creating and maintaining the right family – work balance. Many couples experience extremely strong forces pulling them away from priority they would like their family to have. If you don’t aggressively plan your balance, these forces will prevail, without a clear plan and commitment to maintaining balance, time and energy for family erodes and evaporates. The key to having it all even at staggered points in your life, it is to find the right mate. 🙌
SK: Wooo, hunnie, God bless the sapios, Amen to that! Is it true that men fear women that are learned? Or is it that they want to be associated with women that are learned? Because both beliefs do exist.
Hanan: Honestly, I don’t want to paint a whole gender with that broad a brush. But I think both sides of that statement are true for some men. Men, just like any other group of people, come in different shapes and sizes and different beliefs and mentalities as well. Those who feel threatened by a learned woman exist. And I see them as products of the kind of misogynistic societies they live in. They have long been told that education and leadership and whatnot is no place for a woman and they therefore live by that and enforce it in their lives. This creates a cycle where the boy sees that prejudice and lives it and therefore believes it and it continues through generations. And then there are the ones who question those kinds of societal norms. The ones who don’t see woman empowerment as a threat to them but rather are positive; they embrace the induction of women into the previously male dominated fields and feel privileged to be associated with the kind of women that have done what they were told they can’t do. Moreover it depends on the man himself and his character. A confident successful man would feel more proud to be associated with a successful woman and it goes without saying for an insecure one to feel threatened by her.
Nuria: I think it all boils down to insecurities. A man who is intimated by an empowered woman is an insecure man. He feels the need to control, push women around, he loses power when an empowered woman doesn’t stand for that and fights for her rights, he shrinks in her presence and thinks he loses power when he can’t control women. A secure man on the other hand is surrounded by empowered independent women, he recognizes he is stronger and equally empowered by her presence, that his family, society and world is better and needs more empowered, educated and independent women. A prime example of a man that recognizes and emphasizes this is president Obama who is empowered by Michelle, his mother and daughters.
Nassra: Individuals differ in the way they think. We can’t use the same brush to paint all men. Men who are intimidated by successful women are either insecure or sexist (or both). They feel as though they are being emasculated by working in the same field with what is considered the weaker gender. Competence is what determines intellectual strength, not muscles. A man who is married to, a father to or born to an intelligent, successful woman should be proud to have them.
Naseem: Most men in our society today feel superior to women and that is why they fear women who are learned and shun them but the same would want a learned lady during marriage, of course though with a lesser experience. This superiority game should be stopped and men should accept that we have as much capabilities as them.
Ahlam: Though some men seek out intelligence in prospective partners because it means they will have clever offspring, most men feel threatened by the physical presence of a clever woman, that is, a learned woman. Feelings of diminished masculinity account for men’s decrease attraction towards women who outperform them.😉
SK: And as we wind up, what are your dreams under “women empowerment”? What do you see yourself (as an individual) doing to curb the issue?
Hanan: I dream of a world where women have become such a norm in the kind of things that are more male dominated that those things are termed as female dominated. I feel personally obliged to see that dream through because I have been given all I need. I haven’t been subdued but rather encouraged to pursue my dreams. I want to make full use of that privilege to be the kind of woman that makes girls want to break away from what they are expected to be and be what they want to be and totally can be.
Nuria: Women empowerment in my eyes should be the women empowering other women. Just like in the U.S. elections with Hillary Clinton, I believe that we’ll reach a point in our lives where a woman vying for president will be such a norm and not an eyebrow-raising situation. I genuinely want to mentor young girls and help them reach their full potential and not be limited by the walls society put up.
Nassra: I intend to be an advocate for the girl child education starting with our own community, where being an educated girl is not a right but a privilege. However, that alone will barely move a mole hill. Once I am a well-paid, successful humanitarian woman working in a male-dominated field, I will not have to speak. My existence alone will inspire and motivate young girls to strive for excellence and release their inner thunder.
Naseem: Women should stand up for each other. Develop a girl gang. Women should make their own forums to teach each other that there is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise. A rare breed. Bosses don’t gossip, we profit!
Ahlam: I see myself as an empowered Woman. An individual who thinks and speaks for herself. My dream is for women to be considered as people who have equal rights and abilities and are capable of the same share of responsibility as men. You have to be your authentic self and strive to live out your life’s goals and dreams. Being empowered is about not only lifting yourself up, but others as well. When you find yourself surrounded by sane people excited about your idea and lending support, you realize, perhaps you are not as crazy as you think you are.
This has been an extremely supportive team and I am glad that I have had an opportunity to interview them. Ladies out there, do you see this? These are girls of your age and they are bright enough to believe that women should be empowered at all costs. It won’t work if we just lag behind and wait for others to do it, efforts start with you and I. Till we have the next coffee section, let’s keep caffeinated!