Yes we exist

By Dulanjalee Seneviratne

As a young woman, I have felt a lack of media outlets through which women of my generation can address the issues they face on a daily basis, and this is one of the main reasons behind this column.
Let’s face it, being a woman today is way more different than being a woman from a couple of decades ago. Fifty years ago, a woman’s role was mainly to get married and have a family.

Although many women had the opportunity of obtaining an education, only a few chose to further their education and thereby pursue a career. Once we fast forward to today’s world, getting married and raising a family are not the only things we as women do. I believe I speak for most of you when I say education has become one of our topmost priorities in life.

Whenever I encounter friends from my former school days, almost all of them are involved in some kind of academic programme, either in Sri Lanka or overseas. Once this education ends, next comes choosing a career to credit that education we have achieved after having gone through various hardships. With this being the trend for so many young women of my generation, it is impossible for anyone to say that a woman’s ideologies, priorities, and overall outlook on life have remained unaltered over the years.

I hope to analyze and talk about issues that you and I go through in our lives as young Sri Lankan women through this column. I am by no means a sociologist—I am just a woman like you who is trying to understand society’s discriminatory attitudes and hypocrisies towards us.

The main reason I chose “Commentary from Venus” as the name of my column is because according to John Gray, men are supposedly from Mars and women from Venus!! Although Gray referred to the planet, I like to think that all of us women are Venuses; powerful and beautiful goddesses in our own right. We have suffered centuries (perhaps even millennia) of harassment, ill-treatment, discrimination, and humiliation, and it is finally time for us to assert and acknowledge our existence and abilities with pride and confidence.

We should no longer consider ourselves second-class citizens, since we work shoulder-to-shoulder with our male counterparts to build a better future for everyone.

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to speak with a group of women who belong to my grandparents’ generation, and it was their unanimous opinion that women are inferior to men. I’ve always felt that if women spoke up for their rights instead of submitting to and accepting sexist ideas, we would be stronger as a gender and would not have to experience so much harassment and unequal treatment from the opposite sex.

This may be much easier said than done in many parts of the world, but fortunately we live in a country where we have the freedom to talk about gender issues within our own communities. As women, we understand each other’s problems and challenges, and therefore we need to work with more unity and understanding.

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