As Sayo watched a female lawyer successfully defend her client in a soap opera, she looked at Tade, her twenty year old son and said, “I was going to become a lawyer” With his eyes widened and his mouth ajar, he replied, ‘Really? So, what happened” With a weak smile, she said “I got married and in between your father’s many travels and the responsibility to raise you and your siblings, I could not complete law school. “Wow! I never knew this!” Tade replied as he walked over to the couch she sat and gave his mum a tight hug.
You have that “awwwwwn” feeling right? My question however is did she have to sacrifice her dream of becoming a lawyer because of her family? Why could she not have it all (the career and the family) ? Sayo’s story is the case with many women and this has painted marriage as a dream killer in the subconscious minds of many ladies. For clarity’s sake, this article is not an attempt to challenge gender roles, it is rather the inquiry of a woman (me) who wants to have it all.
Just like it is the case for males, nothing fulfills a woman than being able to reach her aspirations and live her dreams. However, the everyday narrative is that women are forced to contain their dreams if they intend to get married. I was in an interesting conversation about my current research on the role of gender in under development with someone I respect so much and in his opinion, he thought the gender schism is a natural one. For him, it is not the fault of the society that women cannot have it all, it is simply nature that will not allow them. In his words, “women can’t have their cake and eat it…”
And if we are in touch with reality, the veracity of his claims seem almost irrefutable. Many women who chose to wholeheartedly pursue the path of career often do that at the expense of their dreams of a happy ever after with their prince charming and children to call their own. Examples abound of women who had to give up their dreams of a career to groom a family and there are also stories of women who had to give up family for Career. Hence my question, should it really be an either career or family situation for women?
In my own opinion, if a woman really desires to have it all, she can if she has a great support system. Like I wrote in The Steward Called Husband, her husband has a great role to play to ensure that his wife also feels fulfilled and attains her dreams and goals. It is important to note that women who have it all (a successful career and a happy family), often have the massive support of their families especially that of her husband. Examples include Ibukun Awosika,Tara Fela-Durotoye, TY Bello, Funke Felix-Adejunmo, Joyce Meyer and the list goes on. As noted earlier, this is not an attempt to redefine gender roles but the bane of this article is to point out that the immense resourcefulness and undeniable genius of women should not only belong to the Kitchen and ‘the other room’.
Every woman who desires it should have a fair chance to pursue a career and still succeed in her marriage. Women should not be forced to limit their dreams and aspirations because they also desire marital success. Don’t you think? It is also important to point out that there is a subtle disdain with which career women are regarded in the society. In fact, once a lady identifies herself as a career woman, the societal interpretation is that she is not wife material. How sad? That a woman wants to build a successful career that she is passionate about does not make her anti-family or make her unfit for marriage
I sincerely believe that the Genius of Women should not be stifled. Hence, I encourage all husbands and intending husbands to encourage their wives to pursue their dreams and help her to achieve the much-needed balance with family life. Trust me, she will be eternally grateful!