Why parents should worry less about their daughters fitting into glass slippers and more about shattering glass ceilings.
Attend tuition 100 hours a week. Check.
Make sure you get 4 A*’s at A-Level. Check.
Get into a Russel Group university. Check.
Get a first in your degree. Check.
Now sit at home, get a job near home and wait to get married. Urm…what?
Something I have always struggled with in my community is this disparity we seem to have between our sons and daughters when it comes to pursuing a career. (Alhamdulillah, I never faced this in my personal experience but saw many of my female peers go through something similar which prompted me to write this article.)
Parents will push and push and push from the moment we start school to college to university, endless tuitions, endless lectures, endless study groups – to ensure we are following the pre-determined path to get top grades, all the scholarships that the school budget can afford until we get that damned degree paper in our hands. Parents will impatiently wait till we graduate so they get the opportunity to hang our graduation pictures – hats, gowns and the whole shebang – on the wall (my grandma has an entire wall in her room dedicated to all our graduation pics) – a metaphorical trophy up for display for anyone and everyone to see.
But then what? Can we honestly say that we as daughters are given the same liberty and impartiality to pursue our careers with the same determination as our brothers? Can we really #jetsetgo from the onset? For many of my peers, unfortunately, I found that that was not an option.
To my dear parents out there…if you are going to educate your daughters to the same caliber and resolve as your sons, you must give them the same amount of autonomy to go and pursue their careers just like you give to your sons.
Surah Al Alaq (96: 1 – 5); Read in the name of your lord who created, created man from a clinging form. Read!”
This “read” in this ayah for me is not just subjected to us obtaining a paper education to fit the social norms we are constantly confined within as a community – but rather a continuous journey to not only attain but also implement knowledge. We encourage our daughters through laborious projects, dissertations and examination stress for 10 years of their lives, yet to what objective – have a framed degree certificate on the wall and stop achieving? Why do we expect our daughters to start slowing down after their degrees whilst we push our sons towards achieving the next milestone?!
We must ask ourselves, how are we supporting our daughters to continuously develop and learn? What are your daughters doing to break the status quo and become the next directors, managers and leaders of their companies, of their cities or their countries? What example are they setting to pave the way for other girls to follow suit. Why is it that less then 10% of executive directors in the FTSE 100 companies are female? (Guardian, n.d.)
This is a real cause for concern in our communities that we must address and work towards rectifying. The stress of getting our daughters married is sometimes so prominent that it becomes the forefront of our priorities – tunnel visioning us from being able to see the social and developmental growth that a career brings for an individual. Nothing else seems to matter then finding the right match for some, even if it means telling our daughters to “find jobs closer to home”, “nothing with too long hours”, “nothing where travel is involved” and the list of constraints can become an endless abyss if we are not careful.
The task of getting your daughter “married” should never be a hindrance to her career, rather a spring board for its success. The right partner will support your daughters in her career, not hinder her. Both can run in parallel and there is no greater example for us in this than that of the companionship between Bibi Khadija (a.s) and the Holy Prophet (SAW).
An esteemed, brilliant and independent business leader upon her own merit – one of four of the most remarkable women of mankind. Bibi Khadija traded all sorts from furniture to pottery to silk through primary commerce centres comprising from Mecca to Syria and to Yemen even. Her business was larger than all the Quraysh trades combined and infamous for its fair-dealing – gaining her the title Al-Tahira (The Pure One). Yet did her pursuit of brilliance stop when she got married? No. She only got bigger and better.
1400 years ago, in a severely male dominated Khadija was slaying in trade and commerce. So why in the 21st century are we not letting our daughters effortlessly follow this incredible example? If these are the role models we want our daughters to aspire towards, we as parents we need to pave the path for them to follow suit.
Thus, we as parents need to stay consistent, if you are educating your daughters to the highest levels, let them pursue their careers to the best of their ability. Indeed, teach your daughters to worry less about fitting into glass slippers and more about shattering glass ceilings.
Ana Rasheed is an engineer, blogger and contributing writer at the Conversation Room. You can check out her blog ankaraweb here: