I May Not Be A Labourer

By Imaan Suhail, 9A

I may not be a labourer — but if i could change society, the nation, the world, one word at a time, I would dedicate this to all the women, the female labourers, those who do the chores at home, and those who are doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects — those who spend long working hours, and still manage to keep a balance with their housework…

I dedicate this to my aunt, who is a single mother and has been a nurse for forty years. I dedicate this to my mother who is a wife, a mother, and teacher. I dedicate this to all the women who challenge society’s stereotypes — these women are the ones who move mountains despite being told that they were born fragile.

I may not be a labourer, but I wonder why women are defined by stereotypes that build up like bricks on concrete… Suddenly all your dreams fall down to your feet, the stiffness in your muscles as you stretch become society’s expectations, and your plans seem so out of reach.

I dedicate this to every woman who has been told she is too emotional to run for CEO, or that she is too weak to do physical labour. There are labourers who are called too sensitive, or sentimental. They say, ‘Maybe you should consider filling up cups of coffee for those who enter the office instead.’

There are labourers who are separated from the rest by the length of their skirts, or whether there is a veil around her head. It seems that these days respecting a woman comes from whether her dress reaches below her knees. Segregated by a glass ceiling that lies above, this is not just a feeling of isolation — this is the inequality that is displayed from how women’s wages are 24% less than men’s. Equality enclosed in cages — will we ever see it break free? Tell me, if equal pay is a human right, and every woman — mother, sister, daughter — remains deprived of this right, does that imply that we are not human? I may not be a labourer but I would like to mention that generations of women have fought for the same rights we are still fighting for today.

Women have the power to change a nation, but why are there so few in decision-making levels? Only 22% of parliamentarians globally are female, and 62 million girls worldwide are denied education. And why are there only five female parliamentarians out of eighty five in this country? I may not be a labourer, but there are women battling their way out of the labels they are put under.

Those who are referred to by their gender and not profession — she is every photographer known only as a female photographer; she is every salesgirl, receptionist, secretary. It is as if being a working woman often comes as such a surprise that  it places a female under a different category. I would like to question all the people who have doubted the abilities of a woman, simply because the expectations of the community have overshadowed her like a tall tree.

Do the curves on a woman’s body  really illustrate the extent of her capabilities? Women carry heaps of wet clothes, piles of files filled with documents — and in the end some don’t even read it, because ‘a woman wrote it.’ Women carry stacks of washed plates as a result of hours and hours of unpaid labour that most people forget to appreciate.

I may not be a labourer but someday, I will be. And I hope to grow up with a part of every woman who has fought for rights, against stereotypes, those women who have done it with pride. I hope to grow up with fragments of every woman who has been a president, a revolutionist, a working mother. I hope to grow up to be as independant, influential and inspiring  as my mother, Frida Kahlo, Emmeline Pankhurst, Rosa Parks, Sally Ride, Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Margaret Thatcher, Jane Goodall, and Rosie the Riveter.

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