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Every woman goes through a phase in her life when she is bombarded with questions like- 'When are you getting married?,' 'Why don't you find a man and marry?', 'Life is all about marrying, having kids and living happily with them.'
Not from society, but most of the time it is their own family members, neighbours, and friends who put the women in precarious situations. Hardly they know that this might cause stress and depression in that woman as well.
Sometimes, due to oppresive circumstances, women are not able to channelise their emotions properly and they end up feeling trapped in a situation and unable to make a decision. There are many women who surrender themselves in front of the marital pressure and compromise their careers for the sake of their family members.
Similarly, story of Vani (name changed) from Patna is no different. After completion of her engineering degree, like many girls, Vani was too pressurised by her parents and relatives to get married. Initially, she paid no heed to them and said she wanted to work as a software developer instead. She said, "A flourishing career is all that I want now. Let me be what I wanted to be."
But, who cares about a woman's opinion, right? Even after she joined as a software developer in a company hoping that her family would finally stop pressurising her for marriage. Situations became worse and eventually after 3 months she had to quit her job to get married.
It goes without saying that had she been not pressurised for marriage, she would have focused on her career and made something out of it.
Similarly, in another case, a woman called Niti ( name changed) from Koderma, India, got married after her 21st birthday. Like many women who dream of a beautiful realtionship and partner, she too was excited for her marriage and it was a happy moment for her. She dreamt of beautiful moments post her marriage, but, things didn't go as planned and only after a year, she was pressurised to have kids.
She was told by her mother and her sister-in-law, "Being a mother would complete you as a woman." Niti was not at all convinced as it was too early for her to become a mother and raise a child.
Having spent 2 years of her married life, she keeps ignoring what her family members and relatives say. She was not against motherhood, all she wanted was to be mentally and financially prepared to welcome a kid. All she wanted was to work, something she loved her with all her heart.
There was a time when it was mandatory for women to get married after reaching a certain age. But, it is hard for people with a patriarchal mindset to understand that women have other priorities too. They have their own interests and career choices and they love spending 'me-time'. Well, by now we all have understood that self care is not selfish. Getting marriage or having kids can vary from woman to woman and a society cannot give these women a specific deadline for making these choices.
Recently, a campaign named 'Timelines' was created by SK-II, a skincare company, to explore the life's expectations of four women from four different countries, having a different perspective. The timelines of these women differ from the envisions of their grandmothers, mothers and close friends. The interview was taken by an American journalist and author Katie Couric.
Before interviewing and diving into the conversation with these four women,
Katie said, "What happens when dreams clash with expectations? We're all supposed to hit certain milestones: a degree, marriage, a family."
An award-winning Chinese actress, Chun Xia was one of the four women interviewed by Katie Couric. Chun, who is known for voicing her opinions and talking about empowering other young Chinese women. She recalled how at times, she was questioned by people regarding marriage. "I'm always asked, 'Don't you want to get married? Don't you want to start a family and have kids like you should at your age?' But the truth is I really don't want to at this point. I am not ready yet," she said. She believes happiness can come from different sources as well and it is not restricted to marriage.
While talking to Katie, another woman, Maina (25) said, how people in Japan refer women as 'unsold goods', if they don't get married between the age of 25-30 years. Her mom also said,"I really want her to find the right man and get married, to be seen as marriage material."
Post interview, Katie helped these women and their families to understand their respective timelines. The timelines represented the path through which every woman saw her life in contrast with what their families and relatives thought and envisioned.
"For each young woman, two timelines were created. One represents the expectations. The other, their aspirations," Katie explained. "There's often a disconnect between dreams and expectations. But could seeing the difference leads to greater understanding?"
After seeing and understanding the differences in expectations and aspirations the family members along with the women were able to have a better conversation regarding the marriage and life ahead.
There is nothing wrong about being concerned about your daughters or getting them married at an age parents feel is 'right', but, one should also take into account the aspirations and expectations of their children, especially daughters.