• Suhela Abeynaike

A Feminist Perspective on Gender and Work

Being a woman…

Why do we have to work harder? Why do we have to justify our place in society? Why is being a woman a problem?

I have always struggled in finding my place in society. I have been judged, ridiculed, bullied, catcalled, and laughed at and been reduced to a point where my insecurities precede any decision I make. Yet most people don’t see that about me,“you’re so confident” they say, little do they know that each decision I make requires layers of overthinking and constant self-assurance that it’s going to be okay. You may wonder why, it’s simple really; being a woman comes at a price in our society.

The perception of women has always been based on cultural restrictions and social norms that have made us have to 'speak louder’ and ‘work harder’ to get our voices ‘heard’ and actions seen. Too often, the social rules and regulations for men and women are restrictive and opinions are often controlled or misinterpreted. This has led to a debate about gender equality over whether ideologically women and men are inclusive of equal treatment without the disparity and discrimination that exists between the two.

Limiting a woman’s ability to express themselves and to work within their “place” has become an accepted stereotype. The constructed roles of our place in society and the duties we are bound to have begun to define our identity. Hence when the stereotype is broken and a woman goes beyond the societal expectations of her defined role it is considered unethical and abnormal. The backlash we face for breaking the norm and attempting to achieve a goal beyond being a silent woman, a dutiful housewife and caring mother is because we push towards achieving equality in the system.

When put into perspective, a woman who partakes in labour activities is always in competition with the patriarchal system.“You’re too emotional” they say,“You belong in the kitchen”,“You’re too opinionated, typical feminist”, the underlying derogatory insult of being a woman is always thrown back at us. Yet it is the women who goes beyond the constructs, the women willing to fight for their place in society that are a leading example for the younger generation today.

Despite it all, I believe that the fight is worth it, that the struggle to work for your place in society and stand on your own two feet as a career woman or a labourer not only empowers you but that participating in opportunities of self-growth will make you proactive in your response to challenges and will develop your leadership potential that will ultimately help inspire, support, and connect with women around you while making a positive impact in our society.

Our future as women is volatile, it is unknown and transitory, our identity is always at question, it is always undermined and misunderstood. We live by constructs that define our worth and question our beliefs. Yet as I struggle with my own identity as a woman, I am also proud to be a part of this spectrum that has the possibility of accepting change. I am a woman with a hopeful voice that is who I am, I am strong, I am bold, I am confident and I will fight to be heard until the very end.