I was born in India, grew up in Australia and now live in the US. I am a daughter, wife, doctor, Sikh, Indian, sister, friend, and now a first time mom. I come from a family where I am the 3rd generation of well educated strong women – my grandmother was a school principal and my mum had a PHD in mathematics. But from a very young age (probably 3) I noticed society treated females differently. I didn’t know what feminism was, but instinctively I just wanted fairness.
While I am lucky to have been given every opportunity and motivation from my family, I still noticed things that made me want more – things like not celebrating early birthdays/lohris of girls around me, being told to get my brother’s help because I was the ‘weaker’, being told at the gurudwara that, “aren’t you worried a career like medicine will affect your marriage prospects?” being told a family is unfortunate because they had their third daughter, being told, “It’s your duty to move overseas and give up your career for your husband,” and being told that I am really just a ‘guest’ in my home growing up. While these sound archaic and sexist to me, they are all real instances.
I hope my daughter grows up in a better world. A world where…
A women’s destination is not just marriage, given away to serve her husband. She is able to pursue her dreams and have ambition, and it is celebrated, nurtured and developed.
There is no dowry or what is now termed ‘wedding gifts’, wedding costs should be shared equally and there should be no looking down or burdening of the bride’s family.
Women’s rights in their birth home and married home are no different – there is mutual respect, right to inheritance is equal to men and it is practiced, not just written in laws. With no dowry, she should get her share.
The childhood home will always be your home as well, and responsibilities of parental care (as they get older) are no different for men or women. Everyone should contribute, and it should be a practical decision, who can care best.
Menstruation is not considered impure or taboo, but natural, necessary and a sign of health and future children.
That the birth of a boy child is not given more importance than a girl – for she could be the next president, brilliant scientist or Nobel laureate – celebrate the gift of life from nature and the almighty, and its limitless potential.
That men and women’s roles are flexible – depending on strengths and weaknesses and time factors of both, not historical patriarchal roles.
There are no roles that women can’t take on – front line army, priests, prime ministers, presidents, athletes, scientists, orthopedic surgeons – and that they receive as much pay and recognition as men.
Work life balance is better – all work places give paid family leave and there is flexibility for families.
The biological clock shouldn’t feel like a time bomb, like you have to choose a fulfilling career or a happy family.
Women are not judged all the time on their appearance – their age, how they look, their clothes and make up, either by men or by other women. Treat women as human beings first and foremost and their bodies should be treated respectfully and not objectified.
Women shouldn’t be seen as weaker – there are many who are much fitter and stronger than most men, and that is just physical. In terms of mental strength, women have many unique experiences and qualities.
That it is safe for women to travel, work, go out at any time of day, in any country – and we see that the focus should be to make this happen by targeting the criminal element – not blaming women’s clothing, personality or choices, but rather telling society that this is unacceptable through laws, teaching young people and supporting victims rather than blaming them.
So I hope you, my daughter, don’t face these struggles. If you do, I hope we raise you to be strong and intelligent enough to face and overcome any obstacles.
I want you to be the best human being you can be and reach your full potential. I want no judgements or expectations passed onto you by your family, friends or community related to gender.
Our daughter Mureed Kaur ( ਮੁਰੀਦ ਕੋਰ ) was born in 2nd June.