Entrepreneur

This article is a call to women to cross boundaries – either those drawn by society or by ourselves – because, deep down, most women who have limited themselves are not happy. It is not simply about encouraging women to take up a career, but about helping them to pursue their dreams – whether in technology, management, entrepreneurship or academia. It is about being open to every opportunity that comes our way despite being a wife or mother.

Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore. — Lady Gaga

How can we, as women, encourage each other to pursue our dreams? What can we do when a friend is on the verge of giving up a career for societal reasons? Based on my experience, here are some useful steps we can take.

 
1. Resist society’s pressures

While the commonly held belief is that women should take care of the household and children, there is another belief: that every woman should have the chance to live life to the fullest, and that this need not be in the kitchen or with babies. While many women choose to stay at home, others seek fulfilment outside the home. If you have a big dream, you have to resist society’s pressures. Don’t allow anyone put an end to your dreams.

2. Work with your workplace
Talk to your employer and ask them to introduce programmes that focus on female empowerment. This will encourage male colleagues to support the women in their family to pursue their dreams. Programmes could involve sharing ideas on how to empower stay-at-home mothers both financially and intellectually, how to encourage women to pursue their interests, and how to help them into the workplace when they are ready.

Some large corporations, for example Target, have recently launched awareness programmes that help men develop awareness of the issues faced by women and help develop empathy towards female colleagues.

3. Find an equal partner
This is a tough one but will work wonders for you. Sheryl Sandberg explains it like this:

When looking for a life partner, my advice to women is date all of them: the bad boys, the cool boys, the commitment-phobic boys, the crazy boys. But do not marry them. The things that make the bad boys sexy do not make them good husbands. When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated and ambitious. Someone who values fairness and expects or, even better, wants to do his share in the home. These men exist and, trust me, over time, nothing is sexier.

 

4. Make the most of female support networks
Joining hands with women at work or in your community or family can provide support and inspiration. Make a friend that you can help or seek help from. Another great way to draw inspiration from other women is by reading books or attending meetings and events.

5. Pay it forward
Some of us are lucky to have a great husband or family support, an encouraging mentor or boss. Some are not so fortunate. Let us think of ways to repay to others a good deed that we have received. This could be something as simple as making a connection or motivating a friend through a pep talk. A small gesture could change someone’s life and take them closer to their dreams.

While it looks like a man’s world out there, let’s find a way to succeed. We don’t have to put an end to our dreams because we are a wife, a daughter or a mother.

You can waste your lives drawing lines. Or you can live your life crossing them – Shonda Rhimes

So let’s stop drawing lines, particularly those defined by societal or family pressure. Let’s find a way to work quietly behind the scenes and move to the top. Let’s find a solution for every obstacle in our way. It is easier said than done. It is hard. It is painful. It is challenging. But at the end of the journey, there is a lot satisfaction.

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