One of the purposes of my life is to encourage and empower women. I am finding Ted Talks particular helpful for me, and maybe you will too.
I was incredibly moved by this Talk by Manal al-Sharif. She is the women who filmed herself driving in Saudi Arabia. She has a lot of great quotes.
The points that most struck me are these.
A country is not free unless the women are free.
This is so true, and like in her example, it is not just about law it is about cultural traditions and beliefs. Often I feel like I live in a Muslim country. And, in fact, Serbia was ruled by Muslims Turks for 400 years. The hangover of that occupation and oppression has left a serious mark. I feel it daily. Women must be very strong here. They must speak up for themselves and know their worth. Sadly, many do not and it continuing the oppression of women.
It is not only about the system, it is about the women.
There is a quote I have seen here and there, “What you allow will continue”. It is not only about the people who appear to be in control. It is about everyone. If you put up with bullying and believe what is said, you allow yourself to be made less. It is your fault for not standing up for yourself, and it is a VERY bad example for your children and the rest of society. Everyone benefits from a strong smart society of Men And Women.
You get stronger only if you stick up for yourself and others. Being quiet and keeping the peace not only harms you but also the entire society. If you don’t put forth effort for change, nothing will happen.
Her last statement is the key to it all. “Who do you think is more difficult to face, governments or oppressive societies?”
It is obviously the societies, There are always norms or beliefs held to be true that if you do not heed them there are cultural sanctions. I feel like I fight them daily here, but I am different because this is not my natural society. That gives me freedoms others do not have. It also gives me a different view of what is right or proper. Fighting cultural norms are not so hard for me as for women here.
There are some freedoms in being a foreigner, but there are also some larger constraints. If and when I speak out about things that are wrong in my new society, it may be seen as a mean or unfair critique of that society. But if I don’t speak up, I won’t know if it is or not. I also won’t know if what I say may help empower or enlighten others to things that may not be seen as clearly as me. There is a better than average chance I will speak up if I can speak in English. I am not terribly afraid to rock boats. I like the way they rock most of the time. 🙂
In my humble opinion, I think that women need to question the limitations put on them. Look at norms with logic. Think, really think about the things you feel are stopping you. It may just be yourself or an idea in the society and nothing more. Take the initiative for change. Trust me, I know that I am no one of great importance. I am just a women who wants a better life for herself, her family and her friends, and for the rest of Serbia. The little steps we take can turn out to be big ones. You just never know.
If you think this applies only to women in eastern countries you are far from the truth. There are so many things that need to change all over the world. Please apply these ideas to your own life for a bit of change for the good. 🙂
It took 100 women of their society to make a change in Saudi Arabia. Only 100! imagine what just a few can do in yours.
Please watch this Ted Talk. You may just find it inspiring too!
Please share your thoughts, questions, or any comments you have. Dialogue is enlightening. 🙂