In a world where gender norms often dictate who gets to speak and whose voice is valued, the struggle for women to retain a meaningful presence in discourse is an ongoing battle. As a woman navigating through various spheres of life, I’ve encountered countless instances where my voice felt diminished, sidelined, or outright ignored simply because of my gender. This experience is not unique to me but resonates deeply with many women striving for recognition and influence in a society that continues to prioritize men’s voices.
My journey as a woman striving to be heard in a world that often seeks to silence me is not just a battle against gender inequality but a testament to resilience forged through adversity. Growing up in the shadow of uncertainty, without the knowledge of my ancestry, and in the midst of poverty and dysfunction, I learned early on the harsh realities of life. Limited schooling due to financial constraints led me to leave formal education at the age of 15, facing a future that seemed defined by struggle.
Despite the challenges, I was fortunate to have the unwavering love and support of a remarkable adoptive mother who instilled in me the belief that my voice mattered. It was her encouragement that fueled my determination to defy the odds stacked against me. And so, I persevered, navigating at times very badly through life’s trials until the joyous arrival of my children brought new purpose and renewed strength.
As my children grew and embarked on their own life journeys, I seized the opportunity to reclaim mine. With sheer determination and the steadfast support of my loved ones, including my resilient children, I embarked on a quest to pursue knowledge and empowerment. Through countless obstacles and setbacks, I earned certificates, degrees, and eventually a doctorate, each milestone a testament to the indomitable spirit of a woman determined to defy expectations.
Now, armed with the qualifications and expertise forged through years of dedication and hard work, I refuse to be silenced. No longer will I allow others to diminish my voice or question my worth as a woman with the knowledge and qualifications to back it. For every attempt to demean or dismiss me, I will rise stronger, emboldened by the echoes of generations of resilient women who refused to be confined by societal expectations.
And believe me I am not sexist. None of this is about hating men. I have four sons. Strong intelligent men who offer the women who enter their lives with the utmost respect. This reflection of mine is to those men who cannot offer the same. Who cannot sit comfortably and equally alongside women in discussion and debate without insult.
The pressure to conform to traditional gender roles even in today’s society however adds another layer of complexity. From a young age, girls are taught to be accommodating, nurturing, and non-confrontational, traits that are not always conducive to assertively asserting one’s voice. This perpetuates a cycle where women’s opinions are subconsciously devalued, contributing to the broader narrative that men are more authoritative or knowledgeable.
I recall moments in professional settings where I presented ideas only to have them dismissed until a male colleague echoed the same sentiments and received praise. It’s frustrating to witness firsthand the disparity in how our contributions are perceived based solely on gender. Moreover, in casual conversations or debates, I’ve often felt the need to tread cautiously, knowing that assertiveness may be perceived as aggression simply because of societal expectations tied to my gender.
One of the most glaring injustices is the double standard applied to communication styles. While assertiveness is often celebrated in men as a sign of leadership, the same traits in women are labelled as bossy or abrasive. This disparity not only undermines women’s confidence but also creates a barrier to effective communication and participation.
The cumulative effect of having one’s voice consistently marginalised takes a toll on self-esteem and confidence. It’s disheartening to feel like your thoughts and opinions are inherently less valuable simply because of your gender. Over time, this erodes the belief in one’s own capabilities and contributes to a reluctance to speak up, perpetuating the cycle of silence.
Despite these challenges, there are avenues for empowerment. Women must continue to advocate for themselves and each other, fostering a supportive environment where all voices are valued equally. Assertiveness training and confidence-building exercises can help counteract the societal pressures that hinder women’s ability to speak up. Additionally, challenging and dismantling the ingrained biases and stereotypes that perpetuate gender inequality is crucial for creating a more inclusive and equitable society.
Too often men’s voices take precedence and the journey for women to retain and amplify their voices is an uphill battle. By sharing our stories, challenging societal norms, and empowering each other, we can work towards a future where gender equality is not just a goal but a reality. Believe me its nowhere near there yet.
It’s time to dismantle the barriers that silence women and ensure that every voice, regardless of gender, is heard and valued.
Helen Reddy’s raw voice calling out those words of “I am a woman, hear me roar” is a fierce declaration of empowerment and defiance against the forces that seek to silence us. My voice, once stifled by circumstance, now reverberates with the strength of conviction and the echoes of triumph over adversity. And as I stand firm in my truth, I invite others to join me in amplifying the voices of women everywhere, for together, we are an unstoppable force reshaping the narrative of gender equality and empowerment.
In a world where women’s voices are too often relegated to the sidelines, my journey stands as a testament to the power of resilience and determination. From the depths of struggle and uncertainty to the heights of achievement and empowerment, I refuse to be silenced. With unwavering resolve and the support of my loved ones, I proudly declare ‘I am a woman, hear me roar’.