Celebrating Women: Breaking Shackles to Reach True Potential

Dr Amina Muazzam, Department of Applied Psychology, Lahore College for Women University, Pakistan

The fight for women’s rights has been a roller-coaster ride throughout the centuries. It has never been easy. But, the determination, strength, and resilience of courageous women before us paved the path for women to embrace their authenticity, to push boundaries set only to undermine their true potential, and to challenge those who try to silence them. Women have the power within themselves to bring about change and prove wrong everyone who underestimates them.

Women’s Day is an opportunity to honor the achievements of the courageous women before us as well as women today and those to come, and to spread awareness that women’s rights are human rights. Women have dreams, ambitions, and talents that deserve to be recognized and brought to life. Women deserve to be able to discover their true potential, and most importantly, to celebrate themselves every day, because, as quoted by the United States First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt (political figure and activist who played an essential role in developing civil and human rights during the Great Depression and World War II), “A woman’s power and potential is only revealed when put to the test.”

Strong Women, Strong Society

Though we’ve come a long way in terms of returning women’s rights to their rightful owners, a gender equality gap still exists. It is essential to understand this. It’s only possible to bring change if the existence of the matter is recognized and understood. The world we live in is still, for the most part, male-dominated. Thus it is of great importance to change the mindset of men and bring to their realization that giving women the opportunities and rights that men have had since the beginning of time isn’t about bringing men down, it’s about working together to create an inclusive world for everyone and to build a stronger foundation for future generations.

“If you want to lift up humanity, empower women. It is the most comprehensive, pervasive, high-leverage investment you can make in human beings.”
Melinda Gates (philanthropist, and former multimedia product developer and manager at Microsoft)

A Change of Mindset

In the past, women were seen as ‘not capable enough’ to carry out the same activities as men, and if they did, they were seen as being ‘not feminine enough’, forcing them to hide the part of themselves that they felt brought shame to them and their family. Or they just never tried at all to explore their abilities, in the so-called ‘masculine’ activities which prevented them from living a life true to themselves.

What they didn’t see was that femininity was being set in stone by the males of the society, but this defies logic because, how can men define what a woman can or cannot do when they never experienced what being a woman is. She is a mother to the sons that society praises for their competence, and if they had considered who instilled those skills in them, they would realize it was a woman. The skills were already present in the mother, so women have what it takes to be just as successful and can make a change for the better if given the chance to break free from the old customs and stereotypes implanted in this world. Sadly, there are still countries that let their toxic ways prevent women from showing their greatness, thus making it even more important to spread awareness that women are capable of doing whatever they put their minds to. Letting women take opportunities doesn’t make men less masculine, rather it builds the foundation for a strong and healthy society.

Today, women are police officers, body-builders, wrestlers, firefighters, and even part of the military and air force (once male-only occupations).

Some women will be better than others in certain activities just as some men are better than other men in certain activities. These are individual differences, not gender differences.

Women are architects of society, making something greater than we imagined
Harriet Beecher Stowe (author and abolitionist)

Powerful Women

In Pakistan, where there are still regions where women’s rights are withheld from them, great women are born and are proof of the strength and resilience that women possess.

Despite the stereotypes, these brave women continued on the path to discovering their life purpose which led them not only to achieve their true potential but also set an example and ignited a light of hope for the generation to come.

Ayesha Farooq (the first female Pakistani fighter-pilot in the whole of South Asia), Fatima Jinnah (the Mother of the Nation, politician, and stateswoman), Muniba Mazari (activist, anchor, artist, model, singer, and motivational speaker), and Shazia Parveen (first Pakistani female fire fighter) are all examples of the remarkable women of Pakistan, and there are many more (some of whom have yet to be discovered).

I believe in the power of the voice of women
Malala Yousafzai (Pakistani education activist)

Psychological Perspective

Psychology is about challenging thoughts for the better starting with accepting and addressing the problem. This makes spreading awareness on the matter even more important. Some important mentions include Anna Freud, Mary Whiton Calkins (APA’s first female president), Mary Ainsworth, and Karen Horney.

It would not be going too far to assert that conflict confronts every woman who ventures upon a career of her own and who is unwilling to pay for her daring with the renunciation of her femininity
Karen Horney (Mother of feminist psychology)

A Final Note

A change in mindset is all that’s needed.

It’s high-time that the world, including women, believe in their ability to achieve greatness and to unapologetically be themselves.

An idea put a wall of separation between the sexes, and an idea will crumble it to dust.”
|Sarah Moore Grimke (mother of the women’s suffrage movement)

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