Women, How Can We Help Each Other Achieve Our Dreams?

India

I am a woman. I am involved in venture capital. I am a mother. And I want to be successful in my own way. I also want to motivate women who are limiting their ambitions because of social pressures.

This article is a call to women to cross boundaries – either those drawn by society or by ourselves – because, deep down, most women who have limited themselves are not happy. It is not simply about encouraging women to take up a career, but about helping them to pursue their dreams – whether in technology, management, entrepreneurship or academia. It is about being open to every opportunity that comes our way despite being a wife or mother.

Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore. — Lady Gaga

How can we, as women, encourage each other to pursue our dreams? What can we do when a friend is on the verge of giving up a career for societal reasons? Based on my experience, here are some useful steps we can take.

1. Resist society’s pressures
While the commonly held belief is that women should take care of the household and children, there is another belief: that every woman should have the chance to live life to the fullest, and that this need not be in the kitchen or with babies. While many women choose to stay at home, others seek fulfilment outside the home. If you have a big dream, you have to resist society’s pressures. Don’t allow anyone put an end to your dreams.

2. Work with your workplace
Talk to your employer and ask them to introduce programmes that focus on female empowerment. This will encourage male colleagues to support the women in their family to pursue their dreams. Programmes could involve sharing ideas on how to empower stay-at-home mothers both financially and intellectually, how to encourage women to pursue their interests, and how to help them into the workplace when they are ready.

Some large corporations, for example Target, have recently launched awareness programmes that help men develop awareness of the issues faced by women and help develop empathy towards female colleagues.

3. Find an equal partner
This is a tough one but will work wonders for you. Sheryl Sandberg explains it like this:

When looking for a life partner, my advice to women is date all of them: the bad boys, the cool boys, the commitment-phobic boys, the crazy boys. But do not marry them. The things that make the bad boys sexy do not make them good husbands. When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated and ambitious. Someone who values fairness and expects or, even better, wants to do his share in the home. These men exist and, trust me, over time, nothing is sexier.

4. Make the most of female support networks
Joining hands with women at work or in your community or family can provide support and inspiration. Make a friend that you can help or seek help from. Join groups such as Lean In (leanin.org), a non-profit organization and online community dedicated to helping all women achieve their ambitions. Another great way to draw inspiration from other women is by reading books or attending meetings and events.

5. Pay it forward
Some of us are lucky to have a great husband or family support, an encouraging mentor or boss. Some are not so fortunate. Let us think of ways to repay to others a good deed that we have received. This could be something as simple as making a connection or motivating a friend through a pep talk. A small gesture could change someone’s life and take them closer to their dreams.

While it looks like a man’s world out there, let’s find a way to succeed. We don’t have to put an end to our dreams because we are a wife, a daughter or a mother.

You can waste your lives drawing lines. Or you can live your life crossing them – Shonda Rhimes

So let’s stop drawing lines, particularly those defined by societal or family pressure. Let’s find a way to work quietly behind the scenes and move to the top. Let’s find a solution for every obstacle in our way. It is easier said than done. It is hard. It is painful. It is challenging. But at the end of the journey, there is a lot satisfaction.

Photographer & Videographer Credit: Shruti Rao

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  • Ugochic Obidiegwu
    My favourite part, "When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated and ambitious. Someone who values fairness and expects or, even better, wants to do his share in the home. These men exist and, trust me, over time, nothing is sexier."

    This is really important.
  • Titilayo Ogunbambi
    Society and family pressures has hindered a lot of us women from achieving our dreams and the truth is that a little help from each other can go a long way. This article is a must read. I love this piece.
  • Rathi Rajasekaran
    'So let’s stop drawing lines, particularly those defined by societal or family pressure. Let’s find a way to work quietly behind the scenes and move to the top. Let’s find a solution for every obstacle in our way. It is easier said than done. It is hard. It is painful. It is challenging. But at the end of the journey, there is a lot satisfaction.'

    Love the article, especially the last paragragh. We should support, lean on and be proud of each other. There is always a feel good feeling when you see someone achieve his/her dreams, and it definitely motivates me to do better. Thank you for writing this.
  • Wanyana Racheal
    Very profound and relatable.
  • Jessica Foumena
    Thank you very much for these suggestions. I think that there is an increasing number of networks out there for women to network online or offline with women of similar interest. I also agree with you that choosing the right partner is important. However, I must say most women don't always a lot of choices. Let's hope that more men will understand that their woman's success is not a threat to their well-being. 
  • PEGGY OVAT
    Powerful piece. I believe that us women can achieve whatever we set our hearts on. We have so much strength and talent deposited in us. We must not give up
  • Mayssae Ajzannay
    Thank you for amazing essay cause it gives to me that inspiration for follow my dreams and work for changing incorrect faiths about women!
  • Stella Oiro
    Wow☺
    Great article.
    Every woman needs to belong to a women support group.
    United we stand!
  • EVELYN IFEYINWA EZEAGU
    Thannks for that wonderful article. Women need to work and support each other really. Others ways we can assist assist each other is through mentoring, providing enabling environment within the office, for other women to progress.

    #Empowerwomen #EWChampion4change
  • Maryann Nwanneka Egwuonwu
    Great article. I am inspired. Women can actually encourage their fellow women to be empowered by either being an entrepreneur or being a career woman depending on the choice of the woman. We should all resist societal pressure and continue to strive to achieve our dreams. 
  • Amarachi Amaghiro
    Thanks for this wonderful acticle. Let's all Stand on Our Feets and resist all forms of Gender Disgrimination among Women in our conutries . You know what! We are not the Problem! Don't try to be perfect! Try to be yourself.#EmpowerWomen#WEE
  • Dunia Tegegn
    All impressive  strategies. Women can do it all. We donot need to compormise.We can shampion all. We just need some strong networks, opportunities and education.
  • Moureen Njule Eseme

    Indeed it is time for all women to 'break the glass'! and be whoever they want to be. It can be quite challenging, but with the zeal, no one can stop you. Thank you so much.

  • Dr Ishrat Bano
    We are capable of extraordinary accomplishments by helping each other and paying it forward. 
  • Vanessa Udeh
    Thanks Shalini for sharing this. This will answer some of the questions going on in our minds. Great article..
  • Eri I
    Sensitive issues , well-explained topics, great article!
  • Giuliane Bertaglia

    Hey Shalini,

    I just wanna tell you 'thanks' for the touching text. I firmly agree with you in every word you wrote, highlighting the second issue 'work with your workplace'.

    Best regards from Brazil,

    Giu
     
  • Cristina Lasagni
    Thanks Shalini for sharing this post. It is fantastic to see such a great encouragment from a woman to other women. I do believe that there are also young women that do not know what their dream is. Simply because they haven't thought of it yet :) Would be great to have a network to share personal stories and raise awareness that most of the time the only barrier to achieve our dreams is ourselves. There's nothing that can't be achieved. 
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