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As women we identify as mothers, sisters, daughters, wives and sometimes even exceptional cooks. It is very rarely that the answer to the question “who are you?” posed to a woman would result in answers such as entrepreneurs or executives. This is mainly because of the gender stereotypes placed on the identity of women that inevitably relate to what they define themselves to be. In contemporary society however you find that this concept is changing. Women seem to be more open to white collar jobs that result in a nine to five routine job.

Daycares seem to be thriving and women seem to be more open to seeking help to bring up their children. I distinctly remember a time where in Sri Lanka the job of a teacher for a woman was seen as the ideal job opportunity and was even something looked for when it came to marriage. The idea behind this was that they would finish their jobs precisely when the child would finish school hence leaving enough time for the child to be looked after. What did women do to have this kind of stereotype placed on them? Frankly, nothing. These are concepts that evolve over time. Sure, they bring in a lot of controversy but at the end of the day, as with all of life we need to take the good with the bad.

As a student, I am compelled to almost always use taxi companies to move around. I was once fascinated when I was picked up by a woman driver who engaged me in a conversation that gave me an insight into the injustices that thriving women faced in the workplace as they continuously struggle with their identity. This lady’s main argument was that there was nothing different in what she did as a driver and what her male colleagues did. However, there is a constant disparity in her pay and the treatment given to her by her officials. 

As you can see, no woman has an easy life. Identifying as a woman in a contemporary society is hard regardless of the constant movements supporting women’s rights. However there is one thing certain, we are not alone. Your identity be it wife, mother, daughter or sister gives you the strength to carry on.

Shenali Perera is a past pupil of Ladies’ College who is currently pursuing international relations at the Royal Institute of Colombo an affiliate of the University of London. She is a passionate participant in the Sri Lanka Model United Nations who believes in finding solutions or even coming close to them with matters regarding to world peace. She also believes that every woman has equal potential in them and that they should be given equal opportunities to reach them.

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