I met an amazing woman yesterday, one of those people who challenge us to question some of our deepest assumptions about ourselves and others. When I told her I find her amazing, she laughed at me and tried to say she’s just an ordinary person. But she is anything but that. She struggled for many years after her son lost his sight to ensure that he could access a decent education – no easy matter in Bangladesh. She supported him all along the way, and he now has a Masters degree from a top university. But apparently that wasn’t enough of a challenge. She also decided to adopt a girl she saw begging in front of a mosque. She had to overcome the objections of the girl’s mother, as the girl was a source of income for her. She told me of explaining to the school principal that he must be a bit understanding of the girl’s occasional bad behaviour in school, as her parents never taught her how to behave properly. That girl is now getting her university degree.
I certainly don’t believe that all women should be full time home managers. But neither do I believe that no women (or men) should be. Life should be about having options, and about valuing people, family, and relationships, not just money and success. I do think the world would be a better place if we were more willing to acknowledge the incredible contributions of those who work hard to care for others. And since around the world most household work is done by women, who usually receive no pay and no acknowledgment, one place to start would be by appreciating the incredible contributions women make to our society even outside of their more visible and recognized work. Perhaps then women like the one I met the other day will feel more proud of what they have done and enjoy the sensation of knowing their own value and importance in the world.
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