Updated: Jul 23
I grew up in a place where the laws dictated what it means to be a woman. I was told to be holy and save myself. No sex before marriage. And if you’re shy and soft spoken, even better. I was covered up from head to toes since I was in third grade. I wanted to be an adult. I wanted to embody the strong historical women. I was told that covering up makes me free. It keeps me safe.
Could you see yourself and your story in mine?
In 2013, after leaving a fixed marriage I got into when I was 18, I moved to Canada, 24 years old and still covered from head to toes. This all feels like destiny. I have vivid memories of the time I spent in court fighting for divorce. Where I met women who were oppressed, defeated by the system, and some had no one to stand up for them. This is when I found my calling - when I knew that I needed to stand up for women’s rights.
Could you see yourself and your story in mine, in theirs?
They think that I got my freedom when I moved to Canada.
I’d argue not.
Because here I am in Canada and I’m still dictated by society on how to be a woman. How to speak, how to dress, what to do with my body, what to do with my body's hair, and my sexuality is still up for everybody’s judgment.
Here I am in Canada and I’m still dictated by society on how to be a woman leader. And what leadership styles are expected from me. When I was the only female executive in a team of men, I needed to persist to be heard, dismissed and often interrupted. I needed to go above and beyond to prove that I belong, that I have value to offer. I found myself fumbling in the unfairness of it all.
Here I am in Canada and I found myself in a relationship where my partner at the time told me that my passion and interest in politics was not a feminine thing to do, and it made me less attractive. I found myself fumbling between being in a space of power in society, and being loved and desired.
Here I am in Canada and I found myself shrinking, playing small, downsizing parts of myself. Feeling like an imposter. Constantly trying to prove something to someone.